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CFC Strengthens Relationship with Bhutanese Institute through a new agreement to share faculty and research opportunities

UM AND UGYEN WANGCHUCK INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION AND ENVIRONMENT IN BHUTAN CONTINUE COOPERATION

The University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation and the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment in Bhutan have worked together for many years through academic research projects and the hosting of students. A new letter of intent, signed at the end of April by UM Provost Perry Brown and Director of UWICE Nawang Norbu, formalizes specific areas of cooperation and mutual work. The new agreement will provide opportunities for UM students and faculty to work with Bhutanese colleagues in Bhutan on community forestry projects, fire management, and fish and wildlife management.

UWICE is a government-based research and training institute that focuses on sustainable forestry, conservation biology, water resources, and socio-economics and policy sciences.  A 2011 Memorandum of Understanding between UWICE and UM formalized the sharing of faculty, researchers, and students. This letter of intent identifies activities to support faculty exchanges through faculty affiliate status for Bhutanese faculty working at UM; the education of Bhutanese graduate students at UM; and UM faculty instruction of workshops and short courses in Bhutan. Future efforts may lead to a joint graduate program between the two institutions.

UM College of Forestry and Conservation professors Jill Belsky and Steve Siebert received a grant from the MacArthur Foundation to build faculty capacity at UWI CE, specifically in interdisciplinary social and ecological conservation topics. This grant allowed two UWICE faculty to obtain Master’s degrees at the CFC. Those UWICE faculty conducted research on fuelwood growth and demand in the most recently established national park in Bhutan and on the country’s community forestry program and its contribution to local livelihoods. Seibert and Belsky also received two Fulbright grants to support the three-year project. They contributed remaining monies — almost $11,000 — to the UWICE fund to be used to apply these faculty and the others at UWICE to conduct research to support stewardship across the country.