Bhutan and REDD+
Environmental conservation constitutes an important part of Bhutan’s national spatial planning strategic framework and has always enjoyed a high priority on the country’s development agenda. Bhutan`s protection and conservation of the environment and the safeguarding of forest and wildlife is ensured under the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The Constitution directs every Bhutanese citizen to protect environments and natural resources. The Constitution of Bhutan under Article 5, section 2(d) mandates Bhutan to maintain 60% forests cover all the time. Over the years, set of strong laws and policies have evolved to ensure the protection, management and sustainable use of forests.
Bhutan has a forest cover of 70.45% and another 10.43% under shrubs with 51.34% of total area under Protected Area management. This is mainly attributed to the enabling policies and legislations for conservation and sustainable forest management. The implementation of REDD+ therefore has huge potential to complement the efforts of the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGoB) in conservation and sustainable management of forest resources. REDD+ may be linked with a market mechanism which allows developed countries and private companies to fund the planning and implementation of REDD+ activities in developing countries.
REDD+ has the potential to generate additional investment for sustainable management and utilization of forest resources through a future international climate change agreement. The level of this investment will depend on Bhutan’s success in implementing policies and measures that address the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and the barriers to the ‘+’ activities (conservation, sustainable management and enhancement of forests). Countries are currently negotiating the future climate change agreement through the COP under the UNFCCC, which is expected to be agreed in 2015 (COP21, Paris).
Bhutan’s REDD+ program started in 2010 with support from UN-REDD Programme. Since then, several seminars and workshops were conducted at the national as well as district levels, which helped in delivering message on REDD+ to relevant stakeholders. UNDP Bhutan also supported in capacity building and awareness programs. A scoping study for REDD+ was also carried out to study the feasibility of REDD+ Bhutan in December 2010 with technical assistance from SNV Bhutan. In 2013, Bhutan prepared its REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) with support from UN-REDD (UNDP, FAO, UNEP) programme and its country offices which was submitted to and approved by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of World Bank in December 2013. Recently, Bhutan through its Mid-Term Report (MTR) also managed to secure additional funding support from FCPF in March, 2017. The additional funding will further boost the REDD+ readiness preparation for Bhutan.
The main outcome of REDD+ readiness programme is to develop Bhutan’s National REDD+ Strategy and implementation framework including National Forest Monitoring System, Forest Reference (Emission) Level, Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) mechanism, and Safeguard Information System (SIS) for REDD+.