SAARC Char­ter Day to be cel­e­brated in Bhutan

Bhutan Times - - Home - Prena Ghal­ley

Since the es­tab­lish­ment of the South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC), 8th De­cem­ber of ev­ery year is cel­e­brated as the SAARC Char­ter Day. The Eight SAARC Mem­ber States and the SAARC Sec­re­tariat, SAARC Re­gional Cen­ters and SAARC Apex and Rec­og­nized Bod­ies com­mem­o­rate the Char­ter Day by or­ga­niz­ing var­i­ous ded­i­cated events re­lated to SAARC themes.

In Bhutan, the SAARC Forestry Cen­tre in close co­or­di­na­tion with the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fair has planned sev­eral ac­tiv­i­ties to com­mem­o­rate the Thir­ti­eth SAARC Char­ter Day on De­cem­ber 8th, 2014. The cel­e­bra­tions are ex­pected to raise pub­lic aware­ness on the SAARC process and to high­light some of the prin­ci­pal ac­tiv­i­ties and the work of the As­so­ci­a­tion as well as the SAARC Forestry Cen­tre.

A func­tion to com­mem­o­rate the Day will be held on De­cem­ber 8th, 2014 at the Royal Manas Na­tional Park, a trans-bound­ary Na­tional Park across Bhutan and In­dia. The Manas Na­tional Park span­ning across the bor­ders of two SAARC Mem­ber states (Bhutan and In­dia) is well known for rich flo­ral and fau­nal as­sem­blages and has been iden­ti­fied as one of the world’s bio­di­ver­sity hotspots. Co­op­er­a­tion on en­vi­ron­ment and forestry is one of the im­por­tant ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion un­der SAARC and cel­e­brat­ing the SAARC Char­ter Day in the Royal Manas Na­tional Park is planned to high­light the im­por­tance of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­ser­va­tion in the SAARC re­gion.

The func­tion at Royal Manas Na­tional Park in­cludes com­mem­o­ra­tive tree plant­ing and cul­tural pro­gramme by the lo­cal res­i­dents. The func­tion will be at­tended by the of­fi­cials of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs, Depart­ment of Forestry and Park Ser­vices, of­fi­cials of Sarpang Dzongkhag Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Pan­bang Dungkhag Ad­min­is­tra­tion, SAARC Forestry cen­tre and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. The Park of­fi­cials from the Manas Na­tional Park, Assam, In­dia are also ex­pected to at­tend the func­tion.

The ex­tremely rare and en­dan­gered en­demic wildlife such as the Assam roofed tur­tle, hispid hare, golden lan­gur and the pygmy hog are present in this trans-bound­ary park. The Royal Manas area in Bhutan was des­ig­nated as a wildlife sanc­tu­ary in 1966 mak­ing it Bhutan’s old­est pro­tected ar­eas and it was later up­graded to a Na­tional Park in 1993. The to­tal area of Royal Manas Na­tional Park is 1057 km2 ly­ing within three Dzongkhags-Zhem­gang, Sarpang and Pema Gat­shel.

The South Asian As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion (SAARC) was es­tab­lished on the 8th De­cem­ber, 1985 with the sign­ing of the SAARC Char­ter at Dhaka, Bangladesh. The As­so­ci­a­tion was founded with the strong de­sire to pro­mote peace, sta­bil­ity, amity and progress in the re­gion. Bhutan be­came a found­ing mem­ber of SAARC un­der the vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck.

The SAARC Sec­re­tariat es­tab­lished at Kathmandu is sup­ported by eleven Re­gional Cen­tres es­tab­lished in Mem­ber States on var­i­ous themes to pro­mote re­gional co­op­er­a­tion. The SAARC Forestry Cen­tre was es­tab­lished in 2008 and is lo­cated ap­pro­pri­ately in Bhutan, which has one of the high­est per­cent­ages of to­tal land area un­der for­est cover. The vi­sion of the Cen­tre be­ing to pro­mote the Con­ser­va­tion, Pro­tec­tion and Pru­dent use of for­est re­sources in the Re­gion, has con­ducted var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties and pro­grammes in the last seven years.

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