In a first ever, Bhutan will be attempting to break a very green Guinness World Record as part of the 60th birth anniversary celebrations of His Majesty the Fourth King. The record attempt which will be held on 2nd June 2015 will involve planting at least 40,886 trees by 100 men under one hour.
If the 100 men can do it then not only will they break a world record but each participant will get a Guinness certificate marking him as a world record breaker in a team event. The event is one of the two main events of His Majesty the Fourth King’s 60th birth anniversary celebrations with the other being creating the world’s largest book dedicated to the Fourth Druk Gyalpo by 11th November 2015.
In the last four days since the announcement was made for volunteers more than 400 people has expressed interest. Given that there is an 18 to 35 age criteria with all volunteers required to be male around 130 men mainly from Thimphu have been registered. More volunteers are, however being welcomed with the contact number being 77468092 or 02-341053.
The event is being held by the Peoples Initiative in Celebrating the Sixtieth Anniversary (PICSA). PICSA project coordinator Karma Tshering said that the record was first held in 2010 by Northern Ireland when 26,422 trees were planted in an hour.
However, this was broken in 2012 by the Halugaon Forest Division in partnership with the 135 Infantry Battalion and the 15th Battalion of the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army. A team of mainly 100 Indian Army personnel planted 40,885 trees under one hour.
For Bhutan to break the record, each participant, over a period of an hour, will have to plant an average of seven plants a minute.
Karma Tshering said that given the nature of the record one initial option was to involve the Royal Bhutan Army but then organizers decided that ordinary Bhutanese citizens should be given the opportunity.
The location of the record setting attempt will be on a 50 acre bare and gentle slope in Kuensel Phodrang just below the Buddha statue facing Lungtenphu and Babesa.
Karma said the record attempt though not easy will also not be impossible. He said as an experiment he himself had tried planting trees and he could do up to eight a minute for over 30 minutes. He said a more younger and fit age group could go for the record.
The main challenge apart from individual fitness and speed will be overall coordination. With all this in mind PICSA will be organizing a 10 day training camp for its 100 volunteers. The first half of the day will comprise of mock digging and planting exercises helped by forest officials. The 100 men will be divided into ten groups of ten people each and each group will be trained by a forest official. Forest officials, however, will not be there on the final day. The second half after lunch will consist of theory and discussions to learn from the first half, clear doubts and further improve. The physical part will also consist of light fitness exercises. The areas assigned to each individual and team will remain the same till the final day to familiarize them with their area. Punctuality will be important as Guinness is very particular about starting events on time.
However, participants will be given complete rest for two to three days before the main event.
Karma said that during the training phase the participants would be given a special diet of breakfast and lunch by a special kitchen put up at the location.
Eight local species of trees like Walnut, Tshenden, Oak, Betula, Dog wood, Blue pine, Melia and Chirpine will be planted.
The focus will not just be quantity but also quality as the trees will be planted in such a way that they survive and do well.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests will be providing 50,000 tree saplings for the final event.
The event will not end just at a Guinness record but the 100 volunteers will also become members of ‘Bhutan Eco-Green Initiative Network’ (BEGIN) and take care of the planted saplings by watering them and fencing them. BEGIN will also encourage youth across the country to plant trees and aims to have around 100,000 youth members by 2020.
Karma said that by 2020 His Majesty the King himself would be 40 years old and then a very grand event would be held by BEGIN that Bhutan itself had never seen before.
A Guinness judge from London, England is already here and has asked PICSA to come up with 12 local independent adjudicators to help him with judging the event.
PICSA was established under the aegies of Her Majesty Gyalyum Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to supplement and complement the government’s initiatives for the occasion.