The Kingdom of Bhutan is using Logosol sawmills to modernise the country and increase the gross national product of happiness. The Bhutanese Queen Mother visited Sweden to learn more about ecological construction and small-scale work working.
Bhutan is one of the world’s smallest and most enclosed countries with just under 700,000 inhabitants. Up until 2008 the country was an absolute monarchy, sandwiched between India and China in the eastern Himalayas. The population are mainly smallholders and the country has barely any industry.
Happiness is most important
In 1998 King Jigme Singye Wangchuck took the initiative to open up and democratise the country. He and Queen Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck abdicated in 2006, and were succeeded by their son Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. The first democratic elections were held in 2008.
The former queen now bears the title Queen Mother and works towards modernising Bhutan through the Tarayana foundation.
The goal is not economic growth, but the greatest possible happiness. The country has therefore introduced the term ”gross national happiness”.
As a non-industrialised country, Bhutan has the opportunity to move directly to an ecologically sustainable society.
Help from Sweden
The Queen Mother and her foundation have turned to Sweden for help. Anders Nyquist is one of the country’s most experienced architects in the field of ecological building. He has been working with Logosol for many years.
”Logosol’s small scale solutions fit perfectly in Bhutan. There are barely any roads, but a lot of forest that is currently managed using traditional methods”, he reports.
Anders and his wife Ingrid visited Bhutan a while ago to present their ideas. The country’s top leaders became so interested that the Queen Mother immediately decided to study what Anders Nyquist had achieved in his home country. She arrived at the end of October in order to visit the ecovillage, where Anders and Ingrid have realised their ideas on ecological building.
The Logosol sawmill was one of the highlights. Logosol’s founder Bengt-Olov Byström was on-site to demonstrate the sawmill. The Queen Mother and her entourage of mainly women, were extremely interested. One of them, Chime P Wangdi, General Secretary for the Tarayana Foundation, asked if she could try out the sawmill.
Suitable for women
Unconcerned about the sawdust from the sawmill, she took her place, in her traditional dress, and cranked up the sawmill.
”This is perfect for Bhutan. Our country can afford this technology and our farmers can use it. The sawmill makes it possible for women to participate in the development of our country,” was her reaction.
The next step is to use the Logosol sawmill to build low-energy and earthquakeproof housing with a traditional appearance, instead of making the same mistake as others, of importing large-scale solutions using steel and concrete. The goal is not to maximise growth, but to optimise gross national happiness.
The Bhutanese Queen Mother concluded her stay in Sweden by lunching with the Swedish King and Queen.