Bhutan joins AFoCO Agreement
The Minister for Agriculture and Forests & vice Chair of the National Environment Commission, Yeshey Dorji signed the agreement on Asian Forestry Cooperation Organisation (AFoCO) on 13 September 2016 in Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK).
The AFoCO Agreement was adopted in September 2015 and is housed at the ASEAN ROK Forest Cooperation Secretariat, Seoul. Though the Asian Region is laden with vast forest resources and home to vast species of flora and fauna, the globalisation and technological development is becoming an increasing threat to these natural resources and species. The ROK has taken a daunting step to promote and endorse a sustainable development in the Asian region through AFoCO.
The signing ceremony took place in a modest formal ceremony at the office complex of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Seoul. The Bhutanese delegation was led by the Minister with representa- tives from the Ministry while the Korean delegation was led by Mr. Yong Ha Kim, Deputy Minister, Korea Forestry Services with representatives from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROK and Asian Forestry Cooperation (AFoCO) Secretariat. Mr. William Lee, Chairman of Korea-Bhutan Friendship Association was also present.
At the signing ceremony, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji extended the greetings and well wishes of His Majesty The King and the people of Bhutan. He expressed his deep appreciation to Korean Government for the initiative and also hosting the AFoCO Secretariat. He pointed out that the rich experiences and technical soundness of the ROK in forest restoration, rehabilitation and management would definitely serve as a model for global sustainability of the natural resources. Lyonpo said that the signing of the AFoCO Agreement was another milestone in the history of KoreaBhutan relationship where the ties would also cover the scope beyond forestry such as trade, education and more.
Lyonpo mentioned that while Bhutan is also a champion in its conservation efforts, it is no exception to the vulnerability to the effects of climate change. He informed the gathering that Bhutan’s constitution mandates to maintain 60% of her land under forest cover for all times to come and as of now Bhutan’s emissions stand at 1/3rdof the sink capacity of her forest, which covers more than 72% of the country. He shared Bhutan’s pledge to strengthen the existing protected area system and reforest her environment even further. He cited the genius world record plantation as an example of Bhutan’s commitment in conservation efforts where one hundred volunteers planted 49,672 numbers of tree sapling in one hour last summer in Thimphu.
Lyonpo also informed on Bhutan for Life Initiative which is aimed at ensuring financial sustainability for Bhutan’s Protected Area system and Biological Corridors in perpetuity.
Besides, Lyonpo shared certain difficulties of Bhutan in control of the forest fires especially during the dry seasons due to its harsh terrain, lack of adequate resources and expertise to contend them. He pointed out the new collaboration would help Bhutan overcome her difficulties.
He congratulated and thanked the Government of Republic of Korea for hosting the AFoCO and inviting Bhutan to join the same.