The good news is that households in Bhutan are using less firewood today.
The bad news is that institutions like temples and schools are moving in the opposite direction.
It is ironic that in the very institutions that students are taught about the importance of the environment, more firewood is being burned.
The reasons for why schools are using more firewood are unknown.
What we do know is that there are that these schools have large numbers of students to feed and are preferring to use firewood rather than electricity or liquid petroleum gas.
With more central schools to be established next year and with the boarding facilities being liberalised, we can only expect more students requiring to be fed.
If the current shift towards using more firewood holds, we can only expect the institutions to be using even more firewood.
It is not yet certain if any studies have been carried out to see if the gains of less firewood use by households will be offset by the increasing use of the resource by institutions.
Could this impact the Constitution’s mandate to maintain at least 60 percent of forest cover for all times? We’re not sure.
What is important is that the practise be gradually replaced with more environmentally friendly practises.
Undoubtedly, many of these institutions will already be connected with electricity. In order to encourage them to switch to using electricity and electrical appliances to cook, subsidies must be provided if they’re not already.
If subsidies are being provided then more enticing schemes could be offered by the Bhutan Power Corporation and other relevant agencies to convince the institutes that it is better to use electricity.
Bio-gas is being seen as a fuel for the future that could even perhaps replace fossil fuels in some areas. If the project succeeds, the cost savings would be significant. It would be worth exploring if the institutes could be linked with the bio-gas project so that more than one alternative is available.