Nation observes Social Forestry Day

Bhutan has earned international acclaim and is considered a role model in the field of environment conservation

Sonam Penjor

Coinciding with the Coronation Day of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the country observed the Social Forestry Day on 2nd June by planting trees across the country.

Bhutan has earned international acclaim and is considered a role model in the field of environmental conservation. Today, Bhutan is one of the few remaining biological hotspots in the World and the unspoiled environment support a thriving population of endangered species.

Every year, 2nd June is celebrated as the Social Forestry Day throughout the country. It was on this day in 1974, His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo ascended to the Golden throne of the Kingdom.

Since 1985, the Coronation Day was also declared as Social Forestry Day and has been widely celebrated to encourage tree plantation and to involve communities in forestry activities.

The Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, said: “What initially started as a tree-planting program to encourage public participation evolved into peoples’ participation in the sustainable management of our forests, the concept of which started with a Royal decree in 1979, wherein His Majesty, the Fourth Druk Gyalpo proclaimed that “the participation of the local community is the key to conservation and utilization of the forest resources.”

He said, thereafter, people oriented forestry programs aimed at sustainable utilization of forest resources for income generation and enhancement of livelihoods, more commonly referred as Community Forestry is today one of the mainstay forest management in Bhutan.

Lyonpo said that forests are no doubt fundamental for the well-being of humanity and are intricately linked to the very survival of a mountainous country like ours.

“Forests provide us with many goods such as food, timber, fodder and medicines as well as many ecosystem services such as regulation of air, water and temperatures besides conservation of soil and preventing erosion and landslides, which in turn helps in climate change adaptation,” he said.

The minister added they also provide habitats for plants and animals to live and offer us numerous opportunities for employment, recreation, spiritual, health, and inspiration for intellectual and artistic creativity.

In spite of our small geographical area and economy, Lyonpo further said that Bhutan has earned international acclaim and is considered a role model for the World in the field of environmental conservation. Today, “Bhutan is one of the few remaining biological hotspots in the World and the unspoiled environment support thriving population of endangered species.”

Lyonpo further said that like everywhere in the world, our forests are also under tremendous pressure from both manmade and natural causes. Climate change with erratic weather patterns, increasing wild fires and landslides result in forest degradation.

He said when forests are lost or severely degraded, their capacity to function as carbon sinks and regulators of environment is lost, resulting in a vicious cycle of increasing natural disasters and loss of valuable habitats for plants, animals and people.

To curb such challenges, Lyonpo added that a community involvement in sustainable forest management has become ever more important. Lyonpo reminded all the citizens of Bhutan to take pride in the accomplishment of our conservation efforts. He added that protecting nature today means a better planet for future generations.

Meanwhile, in order to support the noble initiative of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and collectively celebrate His Majesty’s leadership in the field of environmental conservation, mass plantation and maintenance of the already planted areas are taken up every year on this day as Social Forestry Day by Natural Resources Development Corporation Limited (NRDCL).

NRDCL takes up plantation works in addition to its normal activity of raising nursery for seedlings, taking up plantation in blank areas, reforestation in degraded/deforested areas, rehabilitation of fire burnt and pest/disease affected areas in different parts of the country.

According to the NRDCL, as usual, the Regional and Branch Offices of NRDCL took up the maintenance of existing plantation and created new plantation in the respective areas.

From 1989 to 2021, NRDCL has created 2,239.86 hectares of plantation across the Country and 881.36 hectares of established plantation was handed over to Department of Forest and Park Services in 2015.

Coinciding with the Coronation Day of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, “Zero Waste Hour” campaign with the theme “My waste, my responsibility” launched by Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen on 2nd June 2019 with an aim to instill a behavioral change for proper waste management and practice sustainable consumption lifestyle is also marked.

For NRDCL, the day is marked by celebrating these important events across various Regional and Branch Offices of the Country.