- Low economic diversification is causing high youth unemployment. Human-wildlife conflict is on the rise and currently Bhutan faces several challenges to have adequate interventions to help rural residents mitigate it in a responsible and conservation friendly way.
- Bhutan is also experiencing increased poaching and the country’s current enforcement capacity is unable to effectively tackle it. Because of Bhutan’s geographical location, Illegal wildlife trade will become a serious concern for wildlife conservation in the coming years.
- And just as Bhutan needs critical funding to address all of these emerging threats, however foreign aid is declining because Bhutan will soon be graduating to a middle income country.
Bhutan For Life
The Bhutan for Life website is LIVE here
Bhutan’s conservation vision and world standing
Bhutan, although a small country, has one of the biggest commitments to conservation. With the highest proportion of forest cover in Asia at 70.46%, it has almost 5 million acres of protected land that is rich in forests, pristine rivers and thriving wildlife. Placed right at the heart of the Eastern Himalayas, it is indeed one of the world’s 10 most biodiverse regions.
About 52% of Bhutan’s Protected Areas (PA) system can generate environmental friendly economic opportunities with timely and the right level of investments. Currently, the parks and wildlife sanctuaries do not have substantial ecotourism products and activities.
Bhutan’s environment also benefits the world. Its forests sequester more than 6 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is four times more than what Bhutan emits.
- balance the need for economic development with the need to protect natural resources.
- balance opportunities in the cities with incentives in the rural villages.
- balance tradition with the desires for modern amenities.
And Bhutan for Life can be one of the strategic and long-term innovative solutions
- Bhutan for Life is an innovative funding initiative that aims to provide a sustained flow of finance to maintain the country’s protected areas and biological corridors for perpetuity (14 years, until Bhutanese government takes over the costs entirely without foreign assistance)
- One is a multi-party, single closing deal – basically here a group of donors commit funds towards BFL but the funds are held and not distributed until (1) The total fundraising commitment goal has been reached
- Then when all of the conditions are met, these donated funds will be placed in a transition fund that will make annual payments, starting high and declining to zero over a projected period of 14 years. At the same time, the RGoB will increase its funding by approximately 5 – 7 percent annually over this 14 year term. After that, Bhutan is responsible for fully funding all protected areas on its own.
- The potential sources for the internal funding have been identified as (1) green tax levied on the import of vehicles, payment for ecosystem services from hydropower, and revenue from eco-tourism in the Protected Areas.
What will the investment go towards?
- Clear Milestones and targets for investment for the next 15 years will be developed by the RGoB for the Protected Areas
- Strengthening enforcement and management of protected areas
- Diversifying eco-tourism activities and products in other areas of the country as the the general tourism routes get saturated.
- Protecting and monitoring wildlife and biodiversity
- Supporting people in the PAs through job creation and income-generating opportunities