Forming a major part of the fragile Eastern Himalayan's system, Bhutan is a hotbed of ecological diversity. Owing it its location and geographical and climatic variations, the ecosystem in Bhutan is diverse. Rainfall ranges from 800mm in inner mountain valleys to over 5,500mm in the lowlands. Subtropical forests at an elevation of 150 meters in the south give way to the northern alpine zone above 7,000 meters. Consequently, Bhutan's high, rugged mountains and deep valleys are rich with spectacular biodiversity, forming a major part of one of the world's ten most important biodiversity 'hotspots.'
The recognition of the importance of this ecological wealth is not something new to Bhutan. The Kingdom's commitment to the conservation of environment is rooted in its beliefs and customs, the understanding of sustainable developments and the importance of the forest systems to the survival of remote and isolated communities.
Placing environmental conservation at the heart of its development strategy, Bhutan realizes that its rich ecological heritage although largely intact, should not be taken for granted. Many of the laws in Bhutan relate directly or indirectly to the conservation of the environment. The government is also committed to maintain at least 60 percent of the land area under forest cover, and has designated 25 percent of the territory as national parks, reserves and other protected areas. Currently, the total land area under forest cover is 72.5 percent of the country.
For centuries Bhutan's isolated location and it's reliant national character kept the Kingdom outside the path of economic development in South Asia. Although this seclusion prevented Bhutan from fully benefiting from many of the medical, technical and scientific advances of the day, it also shielded the country from many of the detrimental side effects of poorly planned of haphazard development. As a result, while most of the Himalayan region has seen its natural resource base severely compromised through deforestation, soil degradation, erosion and pollution, Bhutan's natural patrimony of extensive and varied forests, limited yet fertile and productive farmland, and pristine water and air remains largely intact.
the second half of the 20th century, Bhutan has seen its isolation steadily
eroded by the inexorable forces of progress and development. Even if it
wanted to, the country, no longer secluded, could not prevent itself from
being swept up in the surge of economic and social activity that is propelling
the entire region into the 21st century. But Bhutan now realizes it has
much more to gain than to lose by joining in the march of progress. Foremost
among the benefits is vast improvement in the very quality of the life
for the Bhutanese people that result from the breakthrough in medicine
"Throughout the centuries, the Bhutanese have treasured their natural environment and have looked upon it as the source of all life. This is traditional reverence for the nature has delivered us into the 20th century with out environment still richly intact."
His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck (4th Druk Gyalpo)