MAR 23, 2016 11:48 AM PDT

108,000 trees for a newborn

Already known as the happiest country in the world, Bhutan continues to impress with the latest news that the country recently planted 108,000 trees in honor of the birth of King Khesar and Queen Jetsun’s first child, His Royal Highness the Prince.
 
King Khesar and Queen Jetsun with their first child
 
Bhutan is globally recognized for its unique Gross National Happiness policy, which unlike most other countries in the world, measures the balance of economic growth with environmental conservation and the wellbeing of its people.

Clearly, for Bhutan, environmental conservation and the wellbeing of its people correspond. Within the country’s constitution, there is a law that states that 60% of the country must always be covered by forest. This explains the Guinness record that was set by a group of 100 volunteers last year in Bhutan for planting 49,672 trees in just one hour on mountainous terrain.

But the connection between trees and happiness is more spiritual, as reflected by the Buddhist majority in Bhutan. “In Buddhism, a tree is the provider and nourisher of all life forms, symbolizing longevity, health, beauty and even compassion,” said Tenzin Lekphell, who coordinated the initiative. “It wasn’t a coincidence that the Buddha attained enlightenment under a banyan tree,” he added.

The number 108,000 was also significant, representing a sacred number in Buddhism. “Each sapling encapsulates a prayer and a wish from the person who planted it to His Royal Highness the Prince so that just like the bountiful tree, the Prince also grows up healthy, strong, wise and compassionate,” Lekphell said.
 
A man in Bhutan planting a tree for the celebration of the Royal Prince

But how did Bhutan’s citizens successfully plant such a large number of trees in one sitting? Each of the 82,000 households in the country planted one tree, while the other 26,000 were covered by volunteers throughout the country. Turns out, when people unite together, even big tasks seem small.
 

Sources: Treehugger, The Diplomat
About the Author
BA Environmental Studies
Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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