Royal Government of Bhutan’s Constitutional mandate to maintain 60 percent forest cover in all times to come was promulgated by our beloved and the Great Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. It is due to His Majesty’s far sighted visions that despite being a small country, Bhutan is acclaimed far and wide as a role model for a balanced conservation and utilization of the natural resources.
Social Forestry Day coinciding with our beloved Fourth King’s Coronation Day has been widely celebrated across all Schools and Institutions in Bhutan since 1985. Tree planting program on 2nd June every year promotes and highlights the significance of the importance of forests and people’s involvement in the sustainable management of forest. Since 1990s the Social Forestry Programme has evolved into an important forest management regime which includes community and private forests management – putting people in the forefront to protect, utilize and manage the resources on sustainable basis. Forests provide unprecedented benefits to humanity including their role in reducing Climate Change impacts which is threatening the very existence of humanity on this planet. From this year, the programme will be elevated to add Waste Reduction and Management to highlight minimization of contamination in forest and human settlement areas. Contamination of forests also leads to its degradation.
Even as we take pride on the accomplishment of our conservation efforts, we have to constantly remind ourselves that large areas of forest in the country are cleared for several developmental activities (5789 ha annually) and other resource utilization purposes such as cropland, mining and stone quarries etc (937.41 ha annually). Forest degradation is occurring at an alarming rate, which possess multi-dimensional threats in the long run. In a fragile mountain ecosystem, even the slightest mismanagement of forests can cause huge destruction and loss of lives and properties. Therefore, I urge to all the citizens of Bhutan for a collective responsibility to walk an extra mile towards protection and rehabilitation of our forests, thereby saving our fragile environment for humanity.
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 which is also our Great Fourth Druk Gyalpo’s Coronation Day serves as an inspiration to every Bhutanese citizen to strengthen our love and respect to our beloved Monarch and the Mother Nature.