Creating a future for healthy forests in Bhutan

The permanent funding is the result of a Royal Government of Bhutan and WWF-led initiative called Bhutan for Life (BFL). At the heart of BFL is a $43 million fund for properly managing the country’s 5-million-acre network of protected areas, as well as a commitment from the government of Bhutan to contribute $75 million to the fund over the first 14 years and come up with a permanent source of funding for protected areas beyond the 14-year period. Today, a major milestone related to BFL was reached: the commitment by the Royal Government of Bhutan, WWF and donors from around the world to create the initial fund.

BFL taps into an innovative financial approach, Project Finance for Permanence (PFP), which WWF, national governments and our partners have used in three countries. The largest PFP initiative is in Brazil, where there is now a $215 million fund to permanently protect 150 million acres of the Amazon.

With BFL funds—which will come from the Green Climate Fund, Global Environment Facility and private donors—Bhutan will be able to take a variety of steps related to its protected areas. It will train communities in sustainable and climate-resilient nature-based enterprises, as well as how to manage forests responsibly, in part so the trees can absorb carbon dioxide; conduct scientific inventories of the forests to see if they are healthy; provide solar panels and biogas stoves to communities (an alternative to burning wood to heat and cook, which emits a lot of carbon dioxide into the air); and more.

These measures will help ensure that the country’s forests are healthy and that Bhutan can remain carbon neutral, or even carbon negative: right now, Bhutan’s forests absorb nearly three times more carbon dioxide than the country emits every year.

They, too, will help ensure that forest wildlife life Bengal tigers, snow leopards, Asian elephants, and nearly 200 other mammal species—along with birds like black-necked cranes and white bellied herons—can thrive in their natural habitat.

And that people can have clean drinking water, as Bhutan’s rivers are part of a network of rivers in the region that provides water for one-fifth of the world’s population. Healthy forests also create ecotourism, agriculture, and other sustainable economic development opportunities for the 70% of Bhutan’s population that lives in rural areas.

The end result? Bhutan’s natural landscape is the foundation—for years to come—for healthy and vibrant lives.

And Bhutan becomes a model for global change.