The people of Bhutan have always treasured their natural environment and have lived in harmony with its elements, respecting the sanctity of life and revering the mountains, forests and rivers as abodes of gods and spirits. The predominant Buddhist faith has inculcated deeply in the people the value that all forms of sentient life, not just human life, are precious and sacred.Almost three fourths of land area is covered by forests of temperate and sub-tropical species that are a natural habitat for a diversity of flora and fauna. Bhutanâ€™s various eco-systems harbour some of the most exotic species of the eastern Himalayas and some of the richest bio-diversity in the world. With more than 3,000 plant species, an estimated 770 species of birds, over 50 species of rhododendron, at least 50 species of orchids (many endemic to this region), Bhutan falls within one of the 10 designated global bio-diversity “hotspots” as well as one of the 221 global endemic bird areas.
Twenty-six per cent of the country’s total area has been declared as nature parks and reserves. Nine national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are home to some of the rarest and most significant animals in the world. This has become possible as a result of the combined efforts of the government and the people to keep the country’s flora and fauna undisturbed. The Phobjikha Valley in Wangdue Dzongkhag and Bomdling in Yangtse are two of the three wintering grounds for the rare Blacknecked Crane. The exact number of mammalian species is unknown, but over 165 have been reported. Rare animals like the golden langur, takin ,and snow leopard are widely distributed. Tiger, leopard, elephant, red panda, gaur, serow, Himalayan black bear, brown bear, wild pig, and musk deer are some of the large mammals found in many parts of Bhutan.
Very recently, another nine per cent of the country has been set aside as biological corridors connecting protected areas. The corridors form a “Gift to the Earth” from the people of Bhutan. Bhutan is one of very few developing countries where much of the natural resource base remains intact.