Bhutan can justifiably be called as the one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots. The importance attached to environment is reflected in the Constitution of Bhutan, with Article 5, stating that 60 percent of the country’s area should be under forest cover at all times.
An astonishing array of plants grow in Bhutan: over 5,400 species, including 300 species of medicinal plants, some hardy species thriving even at 3,700m above.
Bhutan has one of the richest stocks of orchids in the world. Of the 369 species, 82 are unique to the mountain kingdom. Bhutan claims 48 of the 1,000 species of rhododendrons found worldwide.
The tropical evergreen forests growing below 800m are repositories of a unique biodiversity. The tropical vegetation of the lower zones gives way to dark forests of oak, birch, maple, magnolia and laurel. Above 2,400m altitude is the home of spruce, yew, and weeping cypress, and higher still, growing up to the tree line, is the east Himalayan fir.
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.
Many rare and endangered species such as the Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, gaur, wild buffalo, wild dog, common leopard, black panther, marveled cat, golden cat, clouded Leopard and Chinese pangolin, Musk derr, Blue Sheep, Takin are seen in Bhutan. Species endemic to the Eastern Himalayan foothills, such as golden langur, capped langur, pygmy hog and hispid hare are found in Bhutan’s oldest park, the Royal Manas Park.