School to Train Conservationists for Country's Vast Forest Reserves
MacArthur has announced a grant of $1.5 million to the Royal Government of Bhutan to establish a new forestry school that will train conservationists and managers for the countrys forest nature reserves, which cover 35 percent of the country.
Bhutans forest cover is one of the most extensive in the world for a country of its size, and we feel privileged to help the government preserve its natural treasure, said Jonathan Fanton, President of MacArthur. Nearly 72 percent of Bhutans land remains under natural forest cover and more than a third of the country is under formal protected status. Its protected area network is also one of the few systems that reflect modern scientific approaches to conservation. With the new forestry school, Bhutan is poised to develop one of the most sophisticated country-wide conservation programs in the world.
We are envisioning that the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute of Forestry and Environmental Studies will not only contribute to the conservation of our countrys rich and diverse biodiversity, but that it will also serve as a great resource for conservation efforts across the Himalaya region, said Sangay Ngedup, Minister of Agriculture for the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Bhutan is mountainous country located in the eastern range of the Himalayas with a population of less than one million. By contrast, neighboring Nepal, a country with similar landscape, has a population of 22 million. The Forestry School will be named after Ugyen Wangchuck, the first king of the united Bhutan. The government plans to open the school in 2007 in honor of the Centennial anniversary of the Wangchuck Dynasty.
The new school will train forest guards and protected area staff in the newest conservation techniques and protected area management approaches. Courses will also be available for professional staff to receive additional training to update their skills when necessary. The school will be designed to accommodate the number of staff required to manage the countrys protected areasan annual intake of 70 studentswith adequate space to offer training courses on specially designed topics such as watershed management or environmental education. It will be located in Bumthang District in central Bhutan, with access to nearby forests and the Thrumshingla National Park for practical field training.
Support from MacArthur will be used to build the facilities, equip the school, and help develop a model program of training. Training programs will be developed in collaboration with the Yale School of Forestry, the U.S. Forest Service, the Asian Institute of Technology, and the University of Montanas School of Forestry. Once established, the schools operating costs will be supported by the Royal Government of Bhutan.
MacArthur has been providing support for conservation and sustainable development efforts in Bhutan since 1991. Since then, it has invested $3 million to help establish the countrys protected area system and train staff to manage it.