Bhutan’s Forests Hold the Key to Global Sustainability: World Bank

In the heart of the Himalayas lies Bhutan, a nation renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, where verdant forests blanket nearly 70% of its terrain. However, a recent report from the World Bank suggests that Bhutan might not be harnessing its natural treasures to their full potential.

The report, while lauding Bhutan’s status as the world’s first carbon-negative country, underlines the need for sustainable utilization of its abundant resources. Despite its commitment to carbon neutrality and the pivotal role played by its forests in achieving this feat, Bhutan seems to be missing out on opportunities to leverage its natural endowment for economic gain.

A significant recommendation put forth by the report is for Bhutan to explore participation in voluntary carbon markets by selling emission offsets. Essentially, this means that Bhutan could capitalize on its carbon-negative status by offering to compensate for carbon emissions elsewhere, thereby generating revenue and reinforcing its environmental stewardship.

Furthermore, the report sheds light on Bhutan’s asymmetrical trade in wood-based products. While the country imports wood worth millions of dollars annually, its own exports in this sector remain relatively meager. This trade deficit underscores a potential area for growth and economic development within Bhutan’s forestry sector.

To address this disparity, the report suggests investing in value-added wood manufacturing industries. By harnessing technologies like glue-laminated timber (glulam) on a larger scale, Bhutan could enhance the value of its timber products and reduce reliance on imports. The establishment of a pilot glulam factory in collaboration with Swiss expertise signals a step towards realizing this potential.

Moreover, the report emphasizes the importance of domestic charcoal production as both a sustainable strategy and a high-value application of forest resources. By reducing reliance on imported charcoal, Bhutan could not only meet its domestic demand but also create avenues for economic growth and carbon mitigation.

Investments in glulam and charcoal technologies align closely with Bhutan’s ambition of achieving 100% carbon neutrality. According to projections, these investments could lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, contributing substantially to Bhutan’s environmental goals.

In light of these recommendations, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has pivoted its focus towards assessing domestic timber demand before considering exportation. This shift reflects a commitment to maximizing the socio-economic benefits of Bhutan’s forest resources while ensuring their sustainable management for future generations.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay has echoed these sentiments, highlighting the potential of Bhutan to meet both domestic and international demand for engineered wood products. With a burgeoning stock of trees and saplings, Bhutan stands poised to capitalize on its natural wealth while upholding its conservation ethos.

As Bhutan charts its course towards sustainable development, the prudent utilization of its forest resources emerges as a linchpin for realizing both economic prosperity and environmental resilience. Through strategic investments and policy interventions, Bhutan can pave the way for a greener, more prosperous future, not only for itself but for the planet as a whole.

Related Posts