Bhutan has rich and pristine environment which is home to a variety of flora and fauna. It is also home to variety of animals, birds, fishes etc some of which are endangered in the world. Environment protection and conversation is emphasized in all the development plans and programmes of the country. In fact, the environment protection and conservation is one of the four pillars of Gross National Happiness.
In order to ensure that the environment remain intact and protected, the Government has initiated system of National Parks and wildlife preserves, which are home to some of the endangered species in the world. Today, this parks and wildlife preserves covers over 25% of the total land area.
As a small land-locked country located in the young Himalayan region, Bhutan is mindful of the vulnerabilities of environment degradation and its devastating impact to the country. Keeping this in mind, the environment protection and preservation is at the center of all the socio-economic development. Any kind of industrial or economic development such as the construction of hydro power plant all requires environment clearance and strict compliance to the norms and standards of environment protection and conservation.
Also the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan requires that the state maintain 60 % forest coverage for all times to come. It is no secret that as country around the world embark on economic development, it comes at the cost of natural environment. However, the Royal Government of Bhutan is conscious that such thing does not happen for Bhutan.
Though Bhutan’s contribution to the climate change and global warming is insignificant, yet Bhutan by nature of its location, it is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Bhutan’s pristine environment and snow capped mountains provides a continuous flow of rivers and is a source of hydro power generation. Not only is this rivers useful for Bhutan, it is also a source of livelihood for thousands of people who are living down the plains of India.
Bhutan signed the Rio Convention on Biological Diversity on 11th June, 1992 and became party to the convention on August 25 1995. It has subsequently produced a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, with two revisions, the most recent of which was received by the convention on 4 February 2010
Today Bhutan boasts of about 300 species of medicinal plants and about 46 species of rhododendrons. Some common sights for the visitors are the magnolias, junipers, orchids of varied hues, gentian, medicinal plants, Daphne, giant rhubarb, the blue and trees such as fir, pine and oaks.
A wide range of rare and endangered animals can also be found frequenting the dense jungles and high mountains of Bhutan. Due to the countries conservation efforts and its unspoiled natural environment Bhutan supports thriving populations of some of the rarest animals on earth and has thus been classified as one of the last biodiversity hotspots in the world Bhutan is also home to about 16 bird species that are endangered worldwide.
These include the White bellied heron, Pallas Fish eagle and Blyth’s King fisher to name a few. Phobjikha valley in Wangdue Phodrang and Bomdeling in TrashiYangtse are also two especially important locations of the endangered Black Necked Cranes.
As one of the ten global hotspots, Bhutan is committed to preserve and protect its rich environment through its government and environmental organizations. This commitment is apparent in the fact that the kingdom has the distinct honor of being one of the only nations whose forest cover has actually grown over the years.