30th SAARC Charter Day Celebrations in Bhutan
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 Centres and SAARC Apex and Recognised 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 Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan 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 programme of the Function is attached.
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 8 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.