Valuing Bhutan’s natural capital

Resource: To educate people on the importance of valuing natural resources and tap into its capital, a four-day training on “Introduction to the Natural Capital Project Approach and InVEST” (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs) concluded in Paro yesterday.

A team of Bhutanese professionals attended the training to build their capacity on valuation of ecosystem services. 

According to a press release, InVEST will enable Bhutan to value ecosystem services such as water quality and yield, timber production, habitat quality among others, which will put value to these resources and enable introduction of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) mechanisms.

PES is broadly defined as incentives offered to farmers or landowners in exchange for managing their land to provide some sort of ecological services. The PES system will be imperative for long-term conservation of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems and the services they provide.

For instance, maintaining the watersheds upstream will result in good water yield and quality which will be beneficial to the hydropower stations downstream through increased power generation and lower maintenance cost due to low sedimentation.

Similarly water is also highly essential for irrigation and drinking water supply. In turn the communities’ upstream receive incentives to ensure the protection of watersheds and therefore in the long run will protect the ecosystems.

The valuation of ecosystem services the press release stated, will go a long way in developing and managing the country’s natural capital, as it will work with all stakeholders for sustainable use of natural capital.

Accounting for Ecosystem services reveals the diverse benefits provided by nature and clarifies tradeoffs between alternative development scenarios and can enable practitioners and policy makers to make more informed decisions in managing valuable natural resources.

Planning Officers, GIS Experts, Engineers and Program Officers from the Gross National Happiness Commission, Department of Forest and Park Services, Ministry of Economic Affairs and UWICE, DGPC and Department of Hydropower and Power Systems attended the workshop.

The Watershed Management Division and UWICE with technical and financial support from WWF Bhutan and the technical team from the Natural Capital Project at the Stanford University together conducted the training.

The Natural Capital project is based at the Stanford University and the University of Minnesota with the global reach of conservation science and policy at the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

By Staff reporter

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