Where Conservation and Recreation Come Together

Forestry division provides a space for people to keep in touch with nature

A mix of rugged terrain and manicured oases in the middle of a forest, the royal botanical park is a hub of exotic plants, birds and an unique recreational site. This natural beauty, that encompasses about 47 sq km, is located at an altitude of 2,800 m.

The royal botanical park was built to preserve the existing rich biodiversity within the Sinchula-Dochula-Helela zone under Thimphu and Punakha districts.

“This area is rich in biodiversity, both in flora and fauna, and the main objective is to conserve them and provide a recreational area for the people,” said the assistant forestry officer, Tshering Phuntsho. He said that the area was degrading as it was used to collect firewood and other forest resources.

The park’s lower boundary starts from Toebesa, stretches to Chamgang in the west, climbs up to Talo, Punakha, in the north and extends right to Thadana monastery in Thimphu.

The park has facilities like an environmental information center, eco campsites, trail network for hiking and bird watching, a cafeteria, children’s park and a two-acre lake called Bari-tsho, that runs about seven metres deep. The lake is considered sacred and workers have seen a change in weather when it’s disturbed. “When you throw a stone or wash hands, it rains even if it’s sunny,” said a forestry official.

The park will also have 46 species of rhododendra in themed gardens.

Forestry officials said that it takes about three days to hike the whole park. There are about six field guides to take visitors around and the park will remain open seven days a week.

An entrance fee of Nu 2 for students, Nu 10 for adults, and US$10 for tourists has been proposed but not yet decided.

Animals like bear, tiger, sambar and takin can be spotted, said Tshering Phuntsho. The best time to visit the park is during spring and autumn. Temperatures can go down to -60 C in winter and shoot up to 250 C in summer.

The park, whose construction began in April 2004, also serves as a biological corridor, connecting the Jigmi Dorji and Jigmi Singye Wangchuck national parks.

The royal botanical park will be inaugurated today by Her Majesty Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck.

By Sonam Pelden
Source: Kuensel

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