The focal person for Reducing Emission from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) program for Bhutan, Tashi Samdrup, of the Watershed Management Division, speaks to Business Bhutan reporter Dawa T Wangchuk about REDD+ program in the country
Q. According to a recent feasibility study, REDD+ is known to have lot of potential in Bhutan, how is it so?
Yes, from the feasibility study it revealed that there is potential to cultivate REDD+ in Bhutan as Bhutan’s unique selling point is the high forest low degradation country combined with a long history of nature conservation and good environmental governance.
Q. How will REDD+ really help Bhutan?
With the Bali action plan from COP13 on REED+, Bhutan has the opportunity to gain from an international REED+ mechanism specifically under such provisions that recognize concrete actions to reduce deforestation, sustainable management of its resources, conservation and enhancement of carbon stock. Accordingly, Bhutan will adopt a phased program of implementing REED+ in securing its ecological and economic benefits while being mindful of the safeguards in minimizing collateral damages or related policy and program externalities.
Q. How does Carbon trading really work?
REDD+ is a mechanism that establishes incentives for developing countries to protect and better manage their forest resources by creating financial value for the carbon stored in forests. It is linked with market mechanism that allows developed countries to offset their emission by purchasing carbon credits from developing countries which reduces emissions from deforestation and forest degradation by avoiding such activities.
Q. What opportunities may be generated from the carbon market?
Bhutan has built a legacy of good custodianship of natural resources, initially based on Buddhists principles and framed in the GNH concept and enacted in the constitution and the broader legal framework. REDD+ is aimed at offering the opportunity to financial reward precisely a country like Bhutan that has been able to conserve forest.
Q. How much will Bhutan receive if we decide to sell our carbon credits to other developed countries?
We cannot say the exact benefit we are going to derive from the sale of carbon. Perhaps we will receive benefits in two ways, financial and human capital. Although the financial benefits will be limited to our small size (small country), we will benefit tremendously in human capitals that will accelerate or enhance the sustainable management of our forest resources, conservation of biodiversity etc.
Q. What are the challenges while implementing REDD+ program in Bhutan?
The Lack of adequate fund to sustainable forest management is a challenge. For example, national forestry inventory was a long felt need. However, NFI could not be conducted due to lack of fund. The other challenge is the lack of technical capacity. We need strong technical capacity for implementation of REED+ which Bhutan does not have at this stage.
Q. One of the biggest challenges faced is the risk of human displacement and eviction from REDD+ identified areas, how will this be dealt?
Well, that shouldn’t be a major problem for a country like ours. We need to seek the free, prior, and informed and get consent (FPIC) from the local communities before implementing the REDD+ program. Consent must be freely given, obtained prior to implementation of activities and be found upon and understanding of the full range of issues implicated by the activity or decision in question.
Q. How will Bhutan go about implementing the REDD+ program?
Two agencies are pivotal for the development of REDD+ within the Bhutanese government system. The Watershed Management Division at the implementation level and the other is the National Environment Commission Secretariat which is the advisory body at the policy level.
WMD is setting up a REDD+ technical committee and a national advisory committee for implementing the REDD+ scheme in Bhutan. At this juncture we are in the process of developing a National REDD+ strategy, so the implementation mechanism requirements will be clearly reflected in the National REDD+ strategy.