School: Ura Central School in Bumthang is expected to reduce firewood consumption by 168 standing trees a year.

This is because Phrumsingla National Park (PNP) supplied seven electric cookers earlier this year.

Of the seven cookers, six have capacity of 120 litres and one has 80 litres. The cookers were purchased from India.

Park officials said Ura Central School used about 180 standing trees, which is equal to 60 truckloads or 480 cubic metres in a year. “But with the supply of electric cookers, the school will consume only 32 cubic metres or 12 standing trees.” The firewood would be used to supplement the electric cookers

Officials also said the school can use firewood when there is no electricity and to heat water for the students for bathing especially at this time of the year. “But when there is electricity, the cookers can be used for both purposes,” an official said.

PNP’s Chief Forest Officer Ugyen Namgyel said excluding the school, Ura gewog consumed 500 standing trees from both community and government reserve forests every year. “Reduction of the firewood consumption by the school will ultimately benefit the people of Ura in future.”

He said the supply of electric cookers to the school is a pilot phase and the park would replicate it to the monasteries and schools within the park area in future if it was found feasible. “We are targeting monasteries and schools, as they consume large amount of firewood every year,” he said.

Ugyen Namgyel said World Wildlife Fund Bhutan Programme funded the cookers.

Ura Central school principal, Lhawang Norbu, said the electric cookers are environment friendly although the electric bills for the school would increase. “It also helps in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in the school as there is no smoke,” he said. “It would also ease the work for the cooks.”

Finance Minister, Namgay Dorji, inaugurated the electric cookers in the school last month and urged people to avoid unnecessary felling of trees. He said people should come forward and share responsibility of pursuing sustainable forest management and wildlife conservation with the park.

Nima Wangdi | Ura