If more than 72 percent of Bhutan is under forest cover today and most of it in pristine condition, it’s because of the cautious move we have made on our path to development since the 1960s after opening its doors to the outside world.
Sustainable development and environment conservation have always been a priority of the government. Since the first modern legislation (1969 Forest Act), many of the nearly hundred laws enacted in later years relate, directly or indirectly, to environment conservation.
Further, Bhutan’s most significant undertaking in environment conservation is the articulation of maintaining 60 percent of forest coverage for all times to come in the country’s Constitution.
With around 72 percent of the total land area under forest cover and approximately 60 percent of the land area under protected areas comprising 10 national parks and sanctuaries, Bhutan is also one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots. This has also been possible because of the country’s location, and unique geographical and climatic variations.
Nestled deep within the Himalayas, Bhutan ecosystem is both rich and diverse. It has an unparalleled richness of flora and fauna in the country.
The country, therefore, is a perfect destination for environmentalists and zealous horticulturalists given that 60 percent of the common plant species found in the Eastern Himalayas are found in Bhutan. There are reportedly about 46 species of Rhododendrons and over 300 types of medicinal plants in the country.
Junipers, Magnolias, Orchids, Blue Poppies (National Flower), Edelweiss, Gentian, various medicinal herbs, Daphne, Giant Rhubarb, Pine and Oak trees are the other plants, among many others, commonly found in Bhutan.
The country is also home to a myriad of animals, including some biologically significant species. The White Bellied Heron may be globally threatened, but a small and significant population is found here in Bhutan. Similarly, Tigers are globally endangered, but in Bhutan there is a viable population.
Snow Leopards, Blue Sheep, Red Pandas, Takin, Marmots and Musk Deer thrive at higher altitudes of the country, while temperate zone is home to Leopards, Gorals, Gray Langurs, Himalayan Black Bears, Red Pandas, Sambars, Wild Pigs and Barking Deer.
The tropical forests in the south are, meanwhile, a haven for Clouded Leopards, Elephants, One Horned Rhinoceros, Water Buffalos, Golden Langurs, Gaurs, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer, Horn Bills and many other species.