The World Bank granted USD 4.8 million to support the country’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through strengthening Bhutan’s forests under the Bhutan REDD+ Readiness Project on February 9 in Thimphu.
The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and Conservation, Sustainable Management of Forest and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks (REDD+) is a mitigation mechanism to combat climate change. The international programme operates under the principles of reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing carbon sequestration through improved forest protection and management.
Finance minister Namgay Dorji said the additional fund would be utilised in implementing two main programmes in the 12th Plan – sustainable management and conservation of natural resources, wildlife or biodiversity and watersheds and the national land use zoning and geospatial management with the National Land Commission.
Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji said the grant would help in achieving the National Key Result Areas (NKRAS) of maintaining services to preserve a healthy ecosystem, enhance carbon-neutral climate and disaster resilient development and national land zoning. “The grant will help strengthen institutional capacity, increase stakeholder engagement, streamline forest information management system including forestry clearance procedure, contribute to having a national land use plan which will help in harmonising conflicts and competing interests across sectors use of land resources.”
World Bank’s resident representative for Bhutan, Yoichiro Ishihara, said that throughout the world when there is a huge dynamic and inconsistencies on how to balance land use, especially forest management, economic development and urbanisation, it is important to develop a national land policy. “Having a good land policy which is informed by evidence and data will give less pressure on the forest and degradation in Bhutan.”
The REDD+ Readiness programme was institutionalised in Bhutan in 2010. In 2013, the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank approved the REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP). The project was implemented from 2015 with a grant of USD 3.8 million from World Bank.
In the three years, the project completed the National Forest Inventory, established heritage forests, land use and land cover mapping 2016, revised forest and nature conservation rules and regulations of 2017, build capacity for forest management, and institutionalised national forest monitoring system and forest reference emission level including the forest resource information management system.
Secretary Rinzin Dorji said Bhutan is also developing the National REDD+ Strategy and Action Plan – a roadmap for implementing Bhutan’s REDD+ programme in future with policies and measures for addressing the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and improving the carbon sink capacity of the forest. “The readiness phase will also benefit Bhutan in terms of establishing a mechanism to monitor forest cover changes and lay the foundation for improving forest management and governance,” he said.
Through these grants, secretary Rinzin Dorji said, Bhutan expects to have the REDD+ architecture in place by 2020.