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BTFEC funds Nu 29mn for four projects

The Bhutan Trust Fund for Environment Conservation (BTFEC) signed grant agreements with Gross National Happiness Commission and grant recipients for four projects worth Nu 28.956mn yesterday.

Under the grant scheme, projects undertaken are Samarzingkha agro-forestry project; building socio-ecological resilience: an adaptation to progressive climate change in Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary; introducing environmental science in formal education in Bhutan in Classes XI and XII; and zero waste project in Samdrup Jongkhar and Wamrong.

Except for the zero waste project in Samdrup Jongkhar and Wamrong, the other projects are from grant cycle December 2016.

During the signing of the agreements, Director of BTFEC, Dr Pema Choephyel, said that all the grantees are to be responsible and accountable to successfully complete the projects benefiting the environment and the livelihood of the community.

The Director of GNH Commission, Rinchen Wangdi said the commission considers BTFEC a very important partner which has been funding projects concerning the environment. He reiterated the importance on implementation and wished the grantees smooth implementation process.

For the Samazingkha agro-forestry project, the grant approved is Nu 15mn and the project extends from July 2017-June 2020.

The project aims to protect and convert the whole Samazingkha ridge, 330 acres, into a beautiful agro-forestry landscape by planting horticultural fruit trees, and ornamental trees. The slope will be converted into paddy and horticulture crop fields. Rain water will be harvested and dams constructed for irrigation. Numerous infrastructures like project office, Royal Rest House, roads, fencing, drains, gate, ESP quarters, and transmission lines will be developed. Thimphu Forest Division will be coordinating the project.

For the socio-ecological resilience project, budget allocated is Nu 7.013mn and it will last from July 2017-June 2019. Assessment of Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), using Bhutan management effectiveness tracking tool Plus (METT+) 2016, indicated climate change and severe weather as one of the potential threats for the park in near future. This project intends to tackle threats from long term climatic changes on biodiversity, human livelihoods, and water resources in and around SWS through three major activity components: climate change adaptation, land use assessment and natural resource management.

To introduce environmental science in formal education in Bhutan in classes XI and XII, the grant amount is Nu 5.236mn and duration of project is from July 2017-December 2018.

The continued course in class XI and XII was envisioned along with the introduction of Environmental Science in classes IX and X, mainly to make Environmental Science meaningful for students in terms of continuity and encourage students to pursue specialisation in environmental studies.

For the zero waste project in Samdrup Jongkhar and Wamrong the amount approved is Nu 1.706mn and project extends from July 2017-June 2019.

Under this project, in collaboration with Jomotsangkha and Samdrupcholing Dungkhags in Samdrup Jongkhar and Wamrong Dungkhag in Trashigang, Samdrup Jongkhar Initiative (SJI) will upscale to Phuntshothang under Samdrupcholing, Langchenphu under Jomotsangkha and Wamrong satellite town under Wamrong Dungkhag. Wamrong has been chosen for its proximity to Narphung, SJI’s zero waste collaborators. The SJI’s very close collaboration with theses dungkhags is aimed at making waste management and the zero waste practices a model.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu

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