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Bhutan Plants 108,000 Trees In the Name of Gross National Happiness

Planting for the prince. Photo by Tendrel Initiatives via AP
For an alternative to Canada or Costa Rica if the unthinkable occurs and know.... consider the tiny Himalayan mountain kingdom of Bhutan, the world's most eco-friendly, carbon-negative country. Last week, many of its 800,000 inhabitants - including the prime minister - turned out to plant 108,000 saplings to commemorate the first Royal Child of their popular King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema. The number was chosen to represent the 108,000 impurities Buddhists believe they must overcome to achieve enlightenment.
It seems Bhutan is well on its way. It has not only pledged to remain carbon neutral, but is a rare carbon sink, with its forests absorbing more carbon dioxide than they emit; its constitution mandates at least 60% of its land remain forested; it has banned export logging; it seeks to be 100% organic and have zero net greenhouse emissions by 2020; and it judges itself not just by economic indicators but by a “Gross National Happiness” Index that gives the natural world and its trees key symbols of longevity, beauty, compassion. "In Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms," says Tenzin Lekphell, who coordinated the plantings to honor the new prince. Now, the people of Bhutan are "nurturing the plants as if we are nurturing the little prince."

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