Some 26.23% of the country’s area is protected through National Parks. In addition, a further 9% has been declared as Biological Corridors, connecting protected areas, and there are a series of Conservation Areas intended to protect important conservation sites outside the formal Protected Areas system. As a result, more than 35% of the country’s area is under the protection of some form of conservation management. This system serves as a globally unique system for in situ conservation of biodiversity.
Regarding diversity at the species level, inventories have indicated that over 5500 species, including 300 species of medicinal plants and over 50 species of rhododendrons. Of the more than 600 species of orchid, most are commonly found up to 2100m, although some hardy species thrive even above 3,700m.
Tropical evergreen forests growing below 800m are repositories of unique bio-diversity. The next vegetation zone is the subtropical grassland and forests found between 900m and 1800m. The tree rhododendron is found in this zone, along with forest of oak, walnut and sal, and numerous varieties of orchids. Temperate zone is a region of great diversity, largely influenced by the elevation. The tropical vegetation of the lower zones gives way to dark forests of oak, birch, maple, magnolia and laurel. Above 2400 altitude is the home of spruce, yew, and weeping cypress, and higher still, growing up to the tree line, is the east Himalayan fir. Between the tree line and the snow line at about 5,500m are low shrubs, rhododendrons, Himalayan grasses and flowering herbs.
Bhutan’s national flower, Blue Poppy grows above the tree line 3,500 – 4,500m elevation and can be found atop some high passes from the far eastern parts of the country all the way across to the west. Because of its unique setting and relatively un-exploited environment, Bhutan probably possesses the greatest biological diversity of any country of its size in Asia. It certainly contains some of the best remaining representatives of habitat types found in the Himalayas.
So far 770 species of birds have been recorded in Bhutan, which reflects the Kingdom’s wide range of agro-ecological environments, from subtropical to alpine and its location at the northern edge of the Zoogeographical oriental region and the permeable and fluid border with China. Also country is famous for wintering populations (about 350 birds) of the vulnerable black-necked crane in the valleys of Phobjikha, Bomdeling and Gyetsa. Blue Sheep in Yaksa.
Along its southern border, the narrow tropical and subtropical belt supports the Asiatic elephant, greater one-horned rhinoceros, gaur, wild water buffalo, hog deer, tiger, clouded leopard, hornbill, trogon and other mammals and birds characteristic of indomalayan species. Only 150 kilometers to the north, high Himalayan fauna include the blue sheep, Takin, musk deer, snow leopard, wolf and other species characteristic of the Pale arctic realm.
For many countries, poaching, retaliatory killing in response to livestock losses has plagued the conservatory efforts for endangered species, however, in Bhutan to a large degree the religious propensity of people and sustainable compensative measure in place and general awareness have led to resounding success in this venture. According to recent census it is found to have remarkable rise in population of endangered Snow leopard.
Bhutan’s history of isolation and policy of sustainable development provides decision makers with a unique opportunity to conserve the country’s natural and cultural heritage. As a first step in conserving its natural heritage, Bhutan has established a system of nine protected areas. The system sets aside approximately 26% of country’s total land area in national parks, nature reserves, wildlife sanctuaries and conservation areas.
Kingdom established its national park system to protect important ecosystems, and they have not been developed as tourist attraction. In many case people even won’t be aware that they are entering or leaving a national park or wild life sanctuary.
Jigme Dorji National Park It is the largest protected area in the country, encompassing an area of 4,349 sq. km, covering the western parts of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha and almost entire area of Gasa district. The park is habitat of several endangered species including takin, blue sheep, snow leopard, musk deer, Himalayan black bear and red panda. The trek from Paro to Choolhari, Lingshi, Laya and Gasa goes through this park