IUCN welcomes Bhutan as new State Member

12 January 2012 – The Royal Government of Bhutan has announced its decision to become a Member of IUCN. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has been designated by the Royal Government of Bhutan as its liaison with the IUCN Secretariat. IUCN extends its warmest welcome to the Kingdom of Bhutan.

Bhutan’s landscape ranges from subtropical plains in the south to the sub-alpine Himalayan heights in the north, with some peaks exceeding 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). The state religion is Vajrayana Buddhism, and the population of under a million people is predominantly Buddhist with Hinduism the second-largest religion.

Bhutan is known as a model for proactive conservation initiatives. The Kingdom has received international acclaim for its commitment to its biodiversity. Bhutan has committed to maintain at least 60% of its land area under forest cover and to designate more than 40%of its territory as national parks, reserves and other protected areas. Most recently, Bhutan identified a further 9% of land area as biodiversity corridors that link protected areas.

“IUCN is extremely honoured to have the Royal Government of Bhutan join IUCN as a State Member” says Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Regional Director, Asia. “Bhutan is a country which has thoughtfully embarked on a pathway of development which is extremely unique and as such provides a real source of inspiration to many other societies which are seeking to find a balance between human development and the sustainability of the natural environment.”

Bhutan was the first country to measure happiness under the guidance of the fourth King. His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck advocated a holistic approach to development emphasizing the protection of the environment, sustainable development, good governance and preservation of culture. In 2005, the Royal Government of Bhutan decided to develop Gross National Happiness (GNH) indicators in order to move the concept of GNH from the point of academic discourse to a measurable one. The indicators aim to check whether programmes and policies are consistent with the values of GNH.

The diversity of Bhutan’s natural resources, its strong commitment to the promotion and protection of the environment, its history and cultural diversity make IUCN proud to welcome this country as a new State Member of IUCN. In addition to the State Member, Bhutan is home to an IUCN NGO Member, the Royal Society for Protection of Nature.

The IUCN Asia Regional Office is currently discussing collaboration with the Royal Government of Bhutan on issues such as human-wildlife conflict and climate change adaptation in Bhutan and the Himalayan region, among other issues.

Source: IUCN