Nowhere in the Himalayas is the natural environment more rich and diverse than it is in Bhutan. One of Bhutan’s ancient names was Menjong Yul, meaning ‘the land of Medicinal Herbs’ and so rightfully. Even today, natural environment is mostly in undisturbed and pristine form. The ecosystem in Bhutan is diverse, because of its location, great geographical and climatic variations. Bhutan’s high, rugged mountains and deep valleys are rich with spectacular biodiversity, making one of the world’s ten most important biodiversity ‘hotspots’. For centuries, Bhutanese have treasured the natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. This traditional reverence for nature has delivered Bhutan into the 21st century with an environment still richly intact. The country wishes to continue living in harmony with nature and to pass on this rich heritage to its future generations.
Knowing the importance of the natural environment, Royal Government of Bhutan takes its conservations at the heart of its development strategy. Royal Government of Bhutan has also committed in maintaining more than 70 percent forest cover for all time to come. Currently the total land under forest cover is 72.5 percent and more than 26 percent of the land is under the protected areas, comprising of four national parks and about 9 percent of the land fall under biological corridors so that the wild life sanctuaries and nature reserves connect protected areas.
Fortunately for Bhutan, maintaining a balanced natural ecosystem remains the central theme of its development process. The country’s development policies disregard sacrificing its natural resource base for short-term economic gains and are consistent with the central tenets of sustainable development, environmental conservation and cultural values.
In 1998, Bhutan was identified by Norman Myers as one of the ten bio-diversity hot spots in the world. It has been identified as the centre of 221 global endemic bird areas. The country signed the Convention on Biological Diversity and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. These conventions were ratified in 1995 at the 73rd session of the National Assembly. The Royal Government of Bhutan has also made a national commitment to uphold its obligation to future generations by charting a path of development called the “Middle Path” – this is the development, which upholds both environmental and cultural preservation as an integral part of the development process.