March 12, 2016

How The Tiny, Poor Country Of Bhutan Became One Of The Most Sustainable Countries On Earth

"The country knows it needs to develop, but it's making sure the development doesn't come at the expense of its natural resources."

Lush green valley

"My country is not one big monastery populated with happy monks."
That’s the first thing that Tshering Tobgay, the charismatic prime minister of the tiny Himalayan nation of Bhutan, wants you to know about his homeland.
People are forgiven for thinking otherwise. For its beautiful forests and mountains and ancient Buddhist architecture, Bhutan—a poor, isolated country sandwiched between India and China that famously measures Gross National Happiness as its main economic indicator—has been called the last Shangri-la. But the prime minister knows that perception works against Bhutan’s efforts to develop economically along a truly sustainable path that has eluded many other equally beautiful nations. In Bhutan, many people still live in poverty, youth unemployment is rising, and pressures on forests are increasing. Its total GDP, $2 billion, is half that of Springfield, Ohio.
But Bhutan has ambitious, long-term conservation goals. Its constitution requires a minimum of 60% of its land must be forested at all times; currently it's at 72%, with more than half the nation covered by a network of national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. And when it became the first country to commit to being carbon neutral in perpetuity in 2009, it was actually already carbon negative: Its forests absorb three times more CO2 than the whole country emits.
All of this is easier in Bhutan than most nations. For one, its politics and culture are unusually cohesive. Governed under a series of monarchs who voluntarily let go of their power over the last two decades, the first democratic elections took place in 2008. And like Costa Rica—another small country within reach of being carbon neutral, Bhutan’s many rivers allow it to generate vast quantities carbon-free hydroelectricity. Much of the excess is exported to India.
Tobgay, a reformer who is only the second prime minister in the nation's history, knows none of this can be taken for granted. Even in Bhutan, he tells Co.Exist, forests face pressures from the outside in—from illegal logging, poaching, and mining—and the inside out—from poor communities who live in them.
"Over the next few years, our small economy won’t have the resources to cover all the costs that are required to protect our environment," he said to a room full of wealthy people at the latest TED conference in February. "When we run the numbers, it looks like it will take us at least 15 years before we can fully finance all our conservation efforts. But we in Bhutan and all the world can’t afford to spend 15 years going backwards."
fresh river water running through valley

A balanced view of ecotourism
Bhutan for Life isn’t the only way that the country is remaining sustainable and carbon neutral. Rural farmers get free electricity so that they won’t have to use firewood to cook food. The country is actually planting new trees through a program called Green Bhutan. And for a country that has been famously slow to incorporate new technologies—it only lifted a ban on televisions in 1999—it is subsidizing the purchase of LED lights and electric vehicles in a big way. With its cheap hydroelectric power, it hopes to become a world leader in EVs and has suspended import taxes on two EV car models.
Bhutan is also a famously isolated country. It requires expensive tourist permits for a fee of $250 a day, which include a mandatory guide. But it is working to develop this part of its economy, with its employment and revenue potential, in a careful way. "We can’t overdo tourism because it will undermine the very things we want to preserve for ourselves and share with the world. So it is a fine balance," Tobgay tell us.
Despite its uniqueness, Roberts hopes that Bhutan can be a model for many other countries. "Every country is different. But every country is also hungry for models that let them overcome the limits of traditional models of conservation. There is no other Bhutan on Earth ... but anytime you do something that works on a scale that matters, people are hungry to learn from it."



Bhutan Mahayana Tours said...

Nice Blog. Bhutan is a one of the most amazing and natural spots for ever. New bus stand and of Bhutan is looking good and clean. I was there last year for ten days with the care of local travel agency Bhutan Mahayana Tour. Which was a more interesting journey in Bhutan.

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This is where true adventure begins…
This is one trip you don’t won’t to miss, & that’s why it’s aptly called the king of all trips. The journey begins with a flight to one of the highest landing airports in the world, & once we get off the twin otter, our eyes begin to take in the gigantic surroundings that stirs our emotions to the bone, as we sort out our equipment & the porters carry what has to be carried & our guides lead the way by the banks of the Dudh Kosi River. We clamber on our set trail through colorful villages as the panoramic scenery begins to take hold of us as we hike through farmlands & bump into the friendly sherpa folks, the local inhabitants of the ‘Khumbu’ {the original name of the Everest region}, known for their legendary climbing skills & warm welcoming nature; our walk soon brings us the the capital of the Khumbu, a thriving town called ‘Namche’, & this is where we get our first views of massive Everest & other silver grey peaks that literally stop the breath for a moment. Namche is the kind of town that will stun you for all the facilities it has within its boundaries, where you will find things not even available in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu. Namche is the first outpost that gives you your first acclimatizing process which gets your body used to the higher elevations that come further on in the course of your trip.
As we haul up for a night in Namche, we begin to observe many other fellow trekkers having a good time, of which some are on their way up while some are on their way down.

Unknown said...

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Langtang Trek is one of the beautiful trekking regions in Nepal with a beautiful geographical diversity and cultures. The trek starts from Syabrubensi with astounding nature and beautiful places like Ghoda Tabela and Kyanjiin Gumba so on. The beautiful nature and the mountain is the major attraction that attracts people in Langtang Trek

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