Bhutan overshadowed and nestled between India and China Tibet, is a little secret of Asia and a conservation jewels in the Himalayas. Its endless tracts of Himalayan forest are blessed with abundance of flora and fauna and are one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world. The Buddhist philosophy of reverence and respect for all things nature has resulted in a healthy environment where wildlife and nature flourished.
Under a national policy and law, 60% of Bhutan must remain covered by forest for all time to come to secure the future for Bhutan’s rich biodiversity. Currently about 72.5% of the total landmass is under dense forest cover. Bhutan has made an enormous commitment towards protecting its natural heritage and its objective is to set aside areas of natural beauty which are of national importance for protection of biological diversity, including endangered species of flora and fauna; and as a resource-base for generating income through sustainable/non-consumptive use of the nature and cultural use. More than 26% of Bhutan is designated for environmental conservation including five national parks. About 9% of land falls under a series of biological corridors in which wildlife sanctuaries and nature reserves connects the network of protected areas.
Jigme Dorji National Park is a full operational park with an area of 4349 sq.km. It is the second largest protected park in the country, occupying almost the entire districts of Gasa, as well as the northern parts of Thimphu, Paro, Punakha and Wangduephodrang districts. The elevation of the park ranges between 1400 to over 7000
The Wangchuk Centennial Park is a founded as recently as 2008 as a tribute to the Wangchuk dynasty in celebration of a century of successful reign. The park is located in the central north part of the country and is measured as the largest National Park among 10 National Parks established in the country with an area of 4914 sq.k
The Royal Manas National Park is located in the central south of Bhutan and north of Manas National Park – Assam, which is the world heritage site. It is one of the first and oldest protected parks in the country notified as wildlife sanctuary in 1966 and later upgraded to a national park in 1993. The RMNP is the only landscape ...
Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, located in the north-east of Bhutan, covering a geographical area of 1564 sq.km. It was established in the year 1995 to protect the large areas of virtually untouched eastern Himalayan ecosystems, conserving rich diversity of flora and fauna spreading across Trashiyangtse, Lhuentse and Mongar. The a
The full operational Jigme Singye Wangchuk National Park covers an area of 1723 sq.km forming a contiguous belt linking Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) in the south to the temperate and alpine vegetation in the north allowing attitudinal migration of wildlife. The park ranges from low conifer and broad-leaved forest to high per
The full operational Thrumshingla National Park covers and area of 905 sq.km encompassing huge expanses of some of the least remaining stands of cool temperate broad-leaved forests and old growth fir in the entire Himalayan region. It was commissioned in the year 1998 and is one the largest major temperate park in the country. ...
The Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary is founded in 2003 and is located at the eastern most part of the country. The sanctuary shares its international border with Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh towards the north and north east and in the south it connects with Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary. It covers an area of 740.60 sq.km with an ...
The operational Khaling - Neoli Wildlife Sanctuary was created in the year 1984 within an area of 273 km which covers under 33,380 ha. The natural ecosystem covers around subtropical forest reserved in Khaling and Neoli, protecting the animal species in the semi-tropical zone. The sanctuary supports Elephant, Gaur, and other tro
The fully operational Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the south-central district or dzongkha of Sarbang with an area of 278 km spreading under 26,520 ha. It was created in the year 1974 to conserve the unique dry forest occupying the important bio-geographical positions. The sanctuary protects the tropical wildlife such
The operational Torsa Strict Nature Reserve has an area of 64,960 ha under reserve protection. This reserve protected falls under two districts or dzongkhags of ( Haa and Paro). The reserve area has a variety of landscape and ecosystem in the western most part of the temperate forest beginning from broad-leaf forest to alpine pa
Flora & Fauna
Bhutan in the midst of the Himalayas prides itself in its biological diversity and the richness of flora and fauna. This has been possible because of its forest cover that is intact and the great altitudinal and climatic range of its location. The country is divided into three major climatic zones: Alpine Zone [4000m and above] with no forest cover; the Temperate Zone range between [2000m to 4000m] with conifer or broadleaf forest; and the Subtropical zone range between [150m to 2000m] with tropical or subtropical vegetation. Within its geographical zone Bhutan boasts of around ten protected areas covering 16,396.43 square kilometers that is more than a quarter of the country’s total area. Within its biodiversity realm, Bhutan contains more than 60 percent of the common plants species found in the eastern Himalaya. It also boasts of about 46 species of rhododendrons and over 300 types of medicinal plants. Junipers, Magnolias, Orchids, Blue Poppy, Edelweiss, Gentian, Medicinal plants, Daphne, giant Rhubarb, and Pine & Oak are also common sights that fill up the vegetation. One can also come across a wide range of animals such as Snow Leopard, Blue Sheep, Red Panda, Tiger, Takin, Marmot, and Musk Deer are some of the species found in the high altitude while Tiger, Leopard, Goral, Gray Langur, Himalayan Black Bear, Red Panda, Sambar, Wild Pig and Barking Deer are found in the temperate zones. The tropical forests in the south is a heaven for Tigers, Clouded Leopard, Elephants, one horned Rhino, Water Buffalo, Golden Languor, Gaur, Swamp Deer and Hog Deer.
The kingdom is also recognized as the highest density of bird rich area with more than 221 global endemic birds. The recorded bird species is over 775 and there are high chances of increasing the growth. In addition, about 57% of Bhutan’s globally threatened birds and 90% of restricted rare birds are dependent on forest. There are over 415 resident bird species. These inhabitant birds are altitudinal refugees, moving up and down the mountains depending upon the season and weather conditions. About 50 species of birds migrate to Bhutan during winter months including buntings, waders, thrushes and the birds of prey. Nearly 40 species are partial migrants including swifts, cuckoos, bee-eaters, fly-catchers and the warblers. The kingdom is also home to about 16 bird species that are endangered worldwide. These include white-bellied heron, Pallas-fish Eagle, Blyth’s Kingfisher etc. Phoblikha valley in Wangduephodrang and Bumdeling Valley in Trashiyangtse are two important wetland visited by the vulnerable black-necked crane every winter. One can experience these magnificent flora and fauna of Bhutan through sightseeing or by going further on trekking, where the trekking trails and routes leads through beautiful forests to high mountains and across clean rivers. Roads in Bhutan are also carved through the rich forest so anyone traveling through these roads can experience the intact nature of Bhutan.
Forest Eco System
Bhutan has more than 72.5% of the total area under forest dominant and is the largest renewable resource. Bhutan’s forest can be classified into three broad and distinct eco-floristic zones. Alpine Zone [4000m and above] with no forest cover; the Temperate Zone range between [2000m to 4000m] with conifer or broadleaf forest; and the Subtropical zone range between [150m to 2000m] with tropical or subtropical vegetation. Several type of forest occurs depending upon the variations in altitude and climatic conditions.
|Forest Type||Area [sq km]
||% of total landmass
|Mixed Conifer||5423||11.8%||Spruce, Hemlock & Larch
|Fir||3132||8.2%||Fir, Hemlock, Birch, Juniper & Rhododendron|
|Broad-leaf & Conifer||1589||4.2%||
|Blue Pine||1199||3.1%||Blue Pine & Oak Species|
|Chir Pine||1006||2.6%||Chir Pine|
|Scrub Forest||3457||9.0%||Scrub & Alpine Meadow Grasses|
River, Lakes & Marshes
Bhutan has a large amount of inland water resources comprising a network of glacier fed rivers, wetlands, glaciers, lakes and streams. There are four major river systems in Bhutan: Drangme Chhu, Puna Tshang Chhu, Wang Chhu and Amo Chhu. All these available rivers flow swiftly out of the Himalayas and rush down the plain to join the Brahamaputra River in India. These rivers are also fed by many tributaries. The largest river system, the Drangme Chhu flows south west from India’s state of Arunachel Pradesh and has three major branches namely the Drangme Chhu, Mangdue Chhu and Chamkhar Chhu. These branches from the Drangme Chhu basin, which spreads over most of eastern Bhutan and drains the Trongsa and Bumthang valleys. In the plans, where eight tributaries joins the Drangme Chhu and known as Manas Chhu River. The 320km Puna Tshang Chhu rises in northwest of Bhutan as Mo Chhu, Pho Chhu and Dang Chhu, which are fed by the glaciers from the Great Himalayan Range. They flow towards south of Punakha and forms Puna Tshang Chhu which later flows south into Indian State of West Bengal. The 370km long Wang Chhu rises in Tibet and flows southeasterly through west-central Bhutan. It drains the Haa, Paro and Thimphu valley and continues south and finally enters West Bengal. The Amo Chhu is the smallest river system that flows out of Chumbi Valley in Tibet and swiftly flows through western Bhutan and finally drains down through Phuntsholing and then flows into India.
Lakes and marshes in Bhutan forms an important part of wetland ecosystems. There are about 677 glacier containing 2,674 glacier lakes which are also source to many rivers and their tributaries.
|Wetland Type||Lakes Area||Sub Total [sqm]||Average Area [sqm]||Largest Lake [sqm]||Smallest Lake [sqm]|
A special permit must be obtained by local travel agency like Wild Mountain Adventure for tourist wishing to enter any protected areas, and visitors must pay an entry permit fee, with the amount set by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest.
Think green and go green. Get the clear instruction of does and don’t from you local guide regarding appropriate conduct while visiting the protected areas.
Tourist must declare all food items wrapped by non-biodegradable items at all entry point of the protected areas. These empty packets, bottles, canes etc. must be brought back out of the protected areas. Properly bury the degradable waste such as food, unlined cartons etc.
Visitors should keep to designated tourist zones; in good will respect the people, cultural and religious values of the communities that live inside the protected areas. Dress appropriately, request permission before taking photographs of people; refrain from photographing or filming inside the premises of temples or shrine room; do not disturb the historical or archaeological sites etc.
Visitors should be sensitive towards the natural environment that they are in: While you are in the protected areas, we strongly discourage scribbling on trees; uproot plants, collecting flowers, destroying natural habitat, disturbed wildlife and taking rocks or geological features etc. Avoid damaging the local flora and fauna.
To support conservation of the nature environment, care has to be taken while visiting the protected areas. Make sure to read the instruction and sign boards before entering the animal preserved center like mini-zoo in Thimphu and Black-necked Crane preserved center in Phobjikha valley. Do not use camera flash while taking close photography of the surrounding habitat animals and birds.
The Bhutanese people are highly dependent on its natural environment, therefore, if you are a smoker be extremely careful while throwing your cigarette butts as it is one of main careless cause of unintended forest fire.