Rabten, Sonam, Class of 2014 – (Bhutan)

Practicum Summary:

Studying Effectivenss and Sustainability of Sawmill and Wood-Based Industries in Thimphu, Bhutan

In his research practicum, Sonam explores the sustainability of wood-based industries and supply and demand market regulation in Thimphu, Bhutan. Although there is strong political will to protect Bhutan’s 72.5% forest cover, fast population growth, developmental activities, and the resulting demand for timber fuel challenges the likelihood of forest protection in the future. In Bhutan, per capita wood consumption is relatively higher than that of neighboring countries, with 95% of households reliant on timber for lighting, heating, and cooking. In his study, Rabten found that there is an excessive amount of waste in the processing of timber at sawmills. In order to reduce waste in sawmills and therefore decrease logging activities, Sonam recommends training sawmill workers in new waste-reducing practices, investing in new, more efficient technologies, repurpose wasted wood offcuts, producing byproducts such as briquettes, and involving all stakeholders in policy making and decision making about timber production.