Our forest plantation record dates back to the late 1940s when the first plantation was carried out in Gelephu in an area of 3.20 acres. The annual tree planting tradition of the Department was re-enforced with the declaration of June 2 as the Social Forestry Day in 1985 to commemorate the coronation of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, who is a visionary environmentalist. On this day, the nation comes together as a family to plant saplings and share the values of planting trees for a healthy local environment and also enriching wildlife habitats.
In Bhutan we depend directly or indirectly on our rich forest biodiversity for food and nutrition, shelter, livelihoods, health and water security. Our healthy forest ecosystems provide multiple goods and services including clean air, clean water to drink, irrigate agriculture fields and generate hydropower. For example, investment in rural drinking water treatment in Bhutan is very minimal because water coming from the local watersheds is pure and clean. Good natural forest cover, and the collective tree planting we carry out every year also serve as a means to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts. One good example is the sequestration of carbon dioxide by our healthy forest ecosystems. We are happy that in Bhutan, the annual sequestration of carbon dioxide is far greater than what is emitted. This is all because of the good conservation policies framed by our visionary monarchs and the fact that every year we plant trees as we celebrate June 2 as our Social Forestry Day. Given these benefits, I hope to see the Sustainable Forest Management agenda dominate and take centre stage during the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) negotiations in September 2015.
The theme for 2015 Social Forestry day is “Plant trees and secure our environment”. I am happy to note that under the leadership and guidance of the Department of Forests & Park Services, our field colleagues in collaboration with local communities and institutes have made big plans to celebrate the Social Forestry Day this year to celebrate the 60th birth anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck. I strongly urge you to continue planting locally available species that blend well with our local environment and have better survival rates. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests will plant saplings in 60 acres this year in Thimphu.
Planting a sapling is just the beginning! We must put our collective efforts to nurture, protect and ensure that it survives so that we maintain 60 % forests cover for all times to come, and more importantly, that we pass on the rich forest biodiversity, and healthy ecosystem goods and services to our future generations.
On behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and on my own behalf I would like to extend my best wishes and warm greetings to everyone in celebrating the Social Forestry Day, 2015.
On this auspicious day, let us once again, commit ourselves to planting native species to maintain the rich forests biodiversity and healthy forest ecosystems in perpetuity. We offer our collective prayers and good wishes for the long life and wellbeing of our revered monarchs and also take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt felicitations to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo on the occasion of the 60th Birth Anniversary.
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