Bhutan — If, or when, forest fires occur, volunteers play a huge role in reducing the impact that such fires could have, which at times can lay havoc upon the livelihood of many farmers and on the natural habitats of forest living animals.
The Chief Guest at the Opening was the Hon’ble Minister of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho with the two day program including the issuance of certificates by Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho to all the registered Forest Fire Volunteers, the release of Guidelines for the burning of agriculture debris and the carrying out of an awareness campaign to people living in the proximity of forests on the burning of agriculture debris.
The volunteers, donning their newly received fire fighting jackets, at the workshop.
Mr. Karma Dukpa, Director, Department of Forest said, that the year 2007-2008 had witnessed maximum forest fires, that has led the department to rethink on measures to curb forest fire incidents. The forming of a forest fire volunteer group, creating public awareness on the forest fire through campaigns and trainings were some of the activities that the department had initiated and intensified. The awareness activities had brought about a remarkable impact in term of reducing the forest fire incidents to only two in 2009.
Two of the Volunteers, Kesang C. Dorji and Sonam Phuntsho, receiving certificates.
The Honble Lyonpo (Dr.) Pema Gyamtsho expressed his appreciation to the volunteers, armed forces, Dzongkhag staff and the public for their support in recognising the importance of protecting our forest and natural resources from the forest fire incidents. He said that this gesture indicates the recognition of forest as the common heritage by everyone. He said that forests are a source of every livelihood; be it generation of hydro power, place for eco-tourism, source of medicinal herbs, construction materials and so on. Therefore, the responsibility of protecting forests rests with every one of us. Without forest the issues of climate change, global warming and carbon emission will never see an end. Lyonpo quoted Mahatma Gandhi as saying what we are doing to forest resources is a mirror of what we are doing to ourselves. Lyonpo also suggested on creating carbon account for the volunteers to encourage more people to join the volunteer group for the cause and not just for the sake of joining. Lyonpo also indicated that the volunteers be provided with proper training and fire fighting gear for safety reasons.
The volunteers also staged a debate on the topic Forest fire volunteers are useful vs. not useful.
Lyonpo presented certificates and letters of appreciation to all the volunteers in recognition of their services. The leaflet on the guidelines for agriculture debris burning or pile burning was also released on the day.
The participants included forest fire volunteers from all walks of life, the Royal Bhutan Police and the Royal Bhutan Army.