Forest Engagement Note on “Pathways for Sustainable Forest Management and Socio-equitable Economic Development” launched

2 October Thimphu: The Ministry of Agriculture & Forests (MoAF) in collaboration with the World Bank jointly launched the Forest Engagement Note for Bhutan titled “Pathways for Sustainable Forest Management and Socio-equitable Economic Development”. His Excellency, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, MoAF graced the event as the Chief Guest. His Excellency jointly launched the note along with Dr. Mercy Miyang Tombon, Country Director for Bangladesh and Bhutan, Dasho Rinzin Dorji, Hon’ble Secretary, MoAF and Resident Representative of World Bank Office, Bhutan.

The launch event was organised to present the diagnostics and key findings of the forest note to a broad audience in Bhutan, including policymakers, civil society, academia, and private sector and to initiate a dialogue intended to enrich the broader recommendations outlined in the Note and to identify other key policy gaps and opportunities in the forest sector.

The Forest Engagement Note has been developed by the Environment, Natural Resources & Blue Economy Global Practice, South Asia Region of the World Bank in collaboration with the Department of Forests & Park Services of the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests. The note is a product of the close collaboration between World Bank and the Department of Forests & Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests through the REDD+ Readiness project. The note is derived from the works and studies done as part of the REDD+ Readiness preparation since the approval of the REDD+ Readiness Proposal by Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of World Bank in 2013 and its implementation since 2015.

The Bhutan Forest Note articulates opportunities for supporting Bhutan’s sustainable development aspirations, including its constitutional commitment to maintain at least 60 percent of the country’s land area under forest cover and to better respond or prepare for vulnerabilities such as climate change and natural disasters. As such opportunities include the increase of timber harvesting volume within sustainable harvesting levels through improved harvesting technologies, the development of forest-based industries (value addition, improved technologies for waste reduction, use of less preferred timber species, the use of wood-based construction materials); building expertise on wood engineering and architecture; and moving parts of the timber market from a fixed-price to a competitive system. Longer term investments recommended are domestic charcoal production, high value furniture industry, online timber and NWFP auctioning system, regional and local partnership, ecosystem valuation system and social capital. The proposed recommendations/interventions are expected to enhance timber productivity, forest governance & rights, investments, markets and ecosystem services.

The Forest Engagement Note will be contributing to the Bhutan Country Partnership Framework (CPF), which outlines the priorities of the World Bank for its engagement in the Country. As part of the CPF, WB’s Forest Engagement Note looks in to possibilities of WB in engaging with the forestry sector especially in enhancing capacities and technologies in sustainable forest management and utilization in the Country. The Note is also expected to be a tool for any fund mobilization plan for the WB and other partners.

As part of the program, the Watershed Management Division, Department of Forests & Park Services of the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests also launched the video documentary on the National REDD+ Strategy. The video provides insight in sustainable forest management and insight of the National REDD+ Strategy of Bhutan.

Dr. Jigme Tenzin, WMD, DoFPS

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