On this very auspicious occasion, let me take this opportunity to remind ourselves on how lucky we are to be born in Bhutan with full blessing and guidance of our Beloved Majesties who have ensured us the abundance of forest and natural resources. It is due to the farsighted visions of Our Majesties, that despite being a small country, Bhutan is hailed far and wide as a model for balanced conservation and utilization of the natural resources. Royal Government of Bhutan’s Constitutional mandate to maintain 60 percent forest cover for all times was promulgated by our beloved 4th Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
To contribute towards this noble goal, the Department of Forests and Park Services, since 1940s to till date have carried out more than 45,000 acres of forest plantation for our future generations and to meet the increasing timber demand. The annual demand for construction timber alone is 10.89 million cubic feet, out of which about 4.40 million cubic feet are for rural house constructions only. In 2017 alone, almost 260,000 cubic feet of timber were supplied for Dzongs and Lhakhangs renovation/reconstruction across the country which is another major timber consumer besides other various timber requirements.
Today, 2nd June is the Social Forestry Day, it was on this day in 1974, the Bhutanese people celebrated the Coronation of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo. Since 1985, the Coronation Day is also declared as Social Forestry Day and widely celebrated to encourage tree planting in our country. Tree planting program on 2nd June promotes and highlights the significance of people’s involvement in the sustainable management of forests.
I would like to remind our fellow citizens that even as we take pride on the accomplishment of our conservation efforts, we have to constantly remind ourselves that every year large areas of forest in the country are cleared for developmental activities, mining and quarries. Forest degradation is inevitable, which poses multi-dimensional threats in the long run. In a fragile environment like ours, even the slightest mismanagement can cause huge destruction and loss of life.
Therefore, I urge for the collective responsibility of all the citizens of Bhutan to walk further for the protection and rehabilitation of our forests.
On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and on my own behalf, let me take this opportunity to thank all the citizens for their untiring and continued support to the Social Forestry Program. I am confident that the Social Forestry Day celebration serves as an inspiration for every Bhutanese citizen to strengthen our love and respect for our beloved Monarch and the nature.