Starting in the northern highlands, Bhutan’s geography is roughly divided into four vegetation zones including alpine, sub alpine, temperate and subtropical. The national biodiversity centre based in Thimphu has identified over 6,000 flowering plants, 200 medicinal plants, 369 orchids and 400 species of ferns.
Most of the medicinal plants grow in the alpine region in the north along with many other shrubs, grasses and herbs. Various Rhododendron species grow in plenty in both the alpine and temperate region. 46 species of rhododendron has been recorded so far in the country, of which 4 species are endemic to Bhutan.
Several other flowers including the national flower, the Blue Poppy grow in the alpine region. Bhutan is rich in forest ecosystem as it covers over 70 percent of the total land area.
The national tree, the cypress, which is evergreen, grow in all parts of the country and is used to make incense sticks and is considered sacred.
The black-necked cranes migrate to Bhutan’s temperate forest from Tibet during winter. The mountains further north, are inhabited by the elusive snow leopard.
Bhutan’s forest is home to a diverse species of rare and endangered animals. The rare golden langur lives and thrives in the temperate and subtropical region in central Bhutan. Elephants and rhinoceros can be seen in the warm and hot southern region.
The Takin is Bhutan’s national animal and it inhabits the northern region. There are over 100 mammals recorded in the country so far. Bhutan is home to a variety of bird species and in recent times bird watching and photography has become a popular recreation and profession for many tourists and locals alike.
Bhutan’s river system and lakes has also allowed many bird species to thrive including cormorants, king fishers, egrets and herons. Till date over 90 species of fishes have been recorded in Bhutan’s river system and lakes.
Bhutan boasts of having around 30 white bellied heron out of the total 200 that live in other parts of the world.