18 April, 2014, Dochula: His Excellency Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, the Minister for Agriculture and Forests graced the opening of the Second Annual Rhododendron Festival by launching the book “Rhododendrons of the Royal Botanical Park” and inaugurating the “Rhodo Trial” at the Royal Botanical Park at Lamperi, Thimphu.
The three days (18-20 April) Rhododendron Festival in Lamperi started today. The festival was showcased under three villages namely Culture and Entertainment Village, Education and Awareness Village and Food and Beverages Village along with other attractions like free guided walks through 124-acre Rhododendron garden. Tourists, guests and officials alike experienced the local culture, local cuisine and the natural environment.
The Royal Botanical Park which was set up as the first recreational park in the country contributes towards fulfilling the mandate of keeping the nation under 60% forest cover and achieving one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness. Thus, the Hon’ble Sanam Lyonpo, in his inaugural address expressed his appreciation to Meto-Pelri Tshogpa, a community based organisation and the Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division for taking such an initiative to organise and promote the festival whereby he also stated that “such a festival will not only promote tourism, but also create a platform where we all gather together all for the cause of conservation.” The Chairman of the Meto-Pelri Tshogpa, Sonam Dorji pointed out that the park was home to many rare species and a watershed area. He added that they would work towards conserving and managing the forest for its great economic, social, ecological, cultural and spiritual benefits along with greater ecological services including recreational benefits and also thanked the Tourism Council of Bhutan for their continued support.
Finally, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji closed his address to the audience at the festival saying “saving the Rhododendron plant also means saving an ecosystem like that of the Royal Botanical Park. While we celebrate Rhododendrons and the existence of the Royal Botanical Park, I urge everyone to join hands with the park management and local communities to conserve our environment.”
– Reported by Tashi Yangzom, ICS with photos by Choidup Zangpo, ICS
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