Nature and Environment
Bhutan’s environment is as diverse as its culture. The Kingdom has received international acclaim and recognition for its commitment to maintain its biodiversity. Environmental conservation is one of the four pillars of the Gross National Happiness and is placed at the core of the nation’s development strategy. At least 60% of the land area is under forest cover, with 40% of its territory as national parks, reserves and other protected areas.
Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 670 species of birds have been recorded so far. Bhutan is an important winter ground for the rare Black-necked cranes, which migrate from Tibet over the Himalayas to Bhutan. They can be spotted in Phobjikha in Western Bhutan, Bumthang in Central Bhutan and Bomdeling in Eastern Bhutan from October to February.
Bhutan is also the home to 10 endangered bird’s species, which include the Imperial Heron, white-winged wood duck and the rare Black-necked crane. About 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants while 40 species are partial migrants. Besides, Bhutan harbors more than 16 species of vulnerable birds, which includes White bellied heron, Pallas Fish eagle and Blyth’s King fisher.
Flora and Fauna
Physically, Bhutan can be divided into 3 zones :
- Alpine zone (4,000 metres and above) with no forest cover
- Temperate zone (2,000 metres to 4,000 metres) with conifer or broadleaf forests
- Subtropical zone (150 metres to 2,000 metres) with tropical or subtropical vegetation
Because of its wide altitudinal and climate range, the flora and fauna is diverse and rich. There are about 5,400 species of plants found in the Kingdom, with 300 species of medicinal plants and 46 species of rhododendrons. Almost 60% of the plant species that are found in the eastern Himalayan region can be found in Bhutan.
A wide range of animals (178 species of mammals) could also be found in the jungles of Bhutan. Snow leopard, blue sheep, Tibetan wolf, antelope, red panda, takin, marmot and Himalayan musk deer are some high altitude species, while Indian leopard, goral, gray langur, Himalayan black deer, red panda, wild pig and barking deer are found in the temperate zones. The lush tropical lowland forests in the south is a haven for Bengal tigers, clouded leopards, hispid hare, sloth bear, one horned rhinoceros, golden languor, gaur, swamp deer, elephants etc. The endangered wild water buffalo also exits in southern Bhutan.