In what seems to be the country’ biggest photo competition, the Tree Hugger Bhutan Competition saw more than 300 photo entries from all across the country.
The photo competition was launched this year to celebrate the International Biodiversity Day and World Environment Day.
According to Tshering Phuntsho, the National Coordinator for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) supported Green Environment Fund Small Grants Programme, the main objective of the competition was to create awareness among the general public, especially among the youth, on the importance of conservation of biodiversity and its values.
“The competition was also a social media campaign to remind the society at large to support conservation of the forest resources and promote its protection through social media.”
Of the 300 photographs, ten best entries were selected as winners in seven different categories. The categories included, Best Tree Hugger, Smallest Tree Hugger, Largest Tree Hugger, Oldest Tree Hugger, Innovative Tree Hugger, Funniest Tree Hugger and the Viewers’ Choice award which recognized for the photo entry with the highest number of likes on Facebook.
Participants included children as young as two years old to as old as 80 years old.
A special innovative logo was created for the Tree Hugger Competition. The old tree on the logo represents sustainability, the different colors seen on the leaves represent the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the four main branches represent the four pillars of Gross National Happiness and the two hands represent the human element.
The Tree Hugger Competition is an initiative to help the people, especially the youth, understand that while Bhutan is well endowed with rich biodiversity.
The Resident Representative of UNDP in Bhutan, Gerald Daly, said Bhutan has a great history of connecting with trees and the environment.
“Trees are the backbone of the environment,” he said. “There are about 816 million trees in Bhutan and there are 1,200 trees for every Bhutanese.”
He added that making a personal connection gives people the basis for action and Bhutan being one of the 10 global hotspots, the country is at the heart of responding to the Sustainable Development Goal 13 on Climate Action and 15 on Life on Land.
The Tree Hugger Competition was also one such initiative of the UNDP in Bhutan to safeguard Bhutan’s rich biodiversity.
In 2016, Bhutan became the 30th country to join as a member of the UNDP’s Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) which was designed to leverage resources for biodiversity conservation through long-term financial solutions by joining hands with national biodiversity stakeholders and global conservation partners.
The competition was organized by the UNDP in Bhutan in collaboration with Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, RSPN, National Environment Commission, National Biodiversity Center, WWF Bhutan Program, Department of Forest and Park Services, and UNDP’s GEF-Small Grants Programme.