The protected areas of Bhutan are its national parks, nature preserves, and wildlife sanctuaries. Most of these protected areas were first set aside in the 1960s, originally covering most of the northern and southern regions of Bhutan. Today, protected areas cover more than 42% of the kingdom, mostly in the northern regions. Protected areas also line most of Bhutan’s international borders with China and India. Protected wildlife has entered agricultural areas, trampling crops and killing livestock. In response, Bhutan has implemented an insurance scheme, begun constructing solar powered alarm fences, watch towers, and search lights, and has provided fodder and salt licks outside human settlement areas to encourage animals to stay away.
List of national parks and national forests in Bhutan:
1. Jigme Dorji National Park and national forests
Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (formerly Black Mountains National Park) covers an area of 1,730 square kilometres (670 sq mi) in central Bhutan. The Park occupies most of Trongsa District, as well as parts of Sarpang, Tsirang, Wangdue Phodrang, and Zhemgang Districts. Jigme Singye abuts Royal Manas National Park to the southeast. The Park is bound to the east by the Mangde Chhu and reaches the Wong Chu (Raidāk) basin to the west. Along the border of the Park from the north to the southeast run Bhutan’s main east-west and north-south highways. It is also connected via “biological corridors” to other national parks in northern, eastern, central, and southern Bhutan.
2. Royal Manas National Park and national forests
Royal Manas National Park is Bhutan’s oldest national park, and the Royal government considers it the “conservation showpiece of the Kingdom” and a “genetic depository” for valuable plants. It has an area of 1,057 square kilometres (408 sq mi) and covers eastern Sarpang District, the western half of Zhemgang District, and western Pemagatshel District. It is connected via “biological corridors” to Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Thrumshingla National Park, and Khaling Wildlife Sanctuary. Royal Manas also directly abuts the World Heritage Site Manas National Park in Assam, India, to the south.
3. Thrumshingla National Park and national forests
Thrumshingla National Park in central Bhutan covers just over 905 square kilometres (349 sq mi) across four districts, but primarily in Mongar. It is bisected by the Lateral Road, and contains the Thrumshing La pass. Thrumshingla is a temperate park with large tracts of old-growth fir forests, its altitudes ranging from 700 metres (2,300 ft) to 4,400 metres (14,400 ft). Because the soil of Thrumshingla’s biomes is particularly fragile, the land is unsuitable for logging or other development.
4. Wangchuck National Park and national forests
Wangchuck Centennial Park in northern Bhutan is the kingdom’s largest national park, spanning 4,914 square kilometres (1,897 sq mi) over five districts, occupying significant portions of northern Bumthang, Lhuntse, and Wangdue Phodrang Districts. It borders Tibet to the north and is bound by tributaries of the Wong Chhu (Raidāk) basin to the west. Wangchuck Centennial also contains the various middle-Himalayan ecological biomes, ranging from blue pine forests to alpine meadows, at altitudes from 2,500 metres (8,200 ft) to 5,100 metres (16,700 ft).