18-20 April, Lampelri: The opening of the third annual Rhododendron festival also marked to commemorate the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck was graced by the Hon’ble Agriculture Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji. The event was marked by an inauguration of the Environmental Education Centre. Lyonpo accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry also paid a visit to the Rhodo trial enjoying the bliss of beautiful blossoms of the Rhododendrons.
The festival was themed ‘Parks and Communities; Bio-Cultural Diversity in Bloom.’ As announced by the Meto pelrig tshogpa, it aims to preserve the unique culture and tradition of the country for the future generations. Such festival will promote tourism creating a platform where people can gather together for the cause of conservation. It also reveals the incredible wealth of knowledge the communities have about forests and the environment they live in. The festival is also aimed to ensure commitments from the communities in save guarding the environment. It was noted in Lyonpo’s key note address that ‘Preservation and promotion of culture and conservation of environment’, the two pillars of GNH is what the festival is preserving and promoting.
While highlighting the majestic view of rhododendrons and its unique niche habitats, Lyonpo said ‘Saving the rhododendron also means saving ecosystems like that of the Royal Botanical Park.’ The Park is the first recreational park in the country covering an area of 47 sq kms and a home to rare species and critical watersheds for Wangchhu and Punatsangchhu river systems.
Since forests continue to be of great economic, social, ecological, cultural and spiritual importance to the Bhutanese people, it is very important that the forests be conserved and managed to provide such benefits and greater ecological services including recreation.
Lyonpo during his inaugural speech highlighted ‘Throughout his reign, His Majesty has given so much to our nation. He has been a source of hope, happiness, peace and inspiration for every Bhutanese. His profound philosophy of GNH has guided our country to what it is today. His Majesty always emphasised on the importance of environmental conservation.’ Today, we have over 70% of its land area under forest cover and over 50% under protected areas. Thus, Lyonpo stated ‘We have long championed conservation and our inherent respect for nature has been made exemplary stewards of the forests and environment. We are now regarded as model for conservation across the world.’
Lyonpo expressed his gratitude to the school children of Hongtsho and Thinleygang, communities of Chang, Kawang, Dagala and Toeb geog, tshogpa and Nature Recreation and Ecotourism Division for organising the event and urged everyone to join hands with the Park management and local communities to conserve our environment, at the same time the students to continue to be the ambassadors of the environmental and cultural conservation.
The Principal of Dechentsemo Middle Secondary School thanked the Tourism council of Bhutan and the Tshogpa for funding the festival and the celebration of 60th Birth Anniversary of Fourth Druk Gyalpo. He also thanked Lyonpo for his guidance and Forestry Department as a whole.
The festival was showcased under three villages: Culture and Entertainment village, Education and awareness village and Food and Beverages village with other attractions like free guided walks, camping facilities and stalls with gifts and souvenirs to take home.
The event was also graced by His Excellency, Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay, the Prime Minister; Lyonpo Jigme Zangpo, the Hon’ble Speaker for National assembly; Lyonpo D N Dhungyel, the Minister for Ministry of Information and Communication; Lyonpo Ngeema Sangay Tshempo, the Minister for Ministry of Labour and Human Resources; Lyonpo Namgay Dorji, the Minister for Ministry of Finance; Members of Parliament among others.
Reported by Tashi Yangzom with Photos by Choidup Zangpo, ICS
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