The happy country that set a Guinness record for planting 49,672 trees in just one hour welcomes the birth of a new prince by more than doubling that planting.
While the small kingdom on the edge of the Himalayas has a few human rights ghosts in the closet, the country is making remarkable progress in transitioning to one of the more enlightened places on the planet. And one thing is for sure, they love their trees ... and they just planted 108,000 of them.
All 82,000 households in the nation planted a tree, while another 26,000 were planted by volunteers around the country – all of this to welcome the birth of the first child of King Khesar (below) and Queen Jetsun. Each tree was sealed with a prayer for the heir to the throne, reports The Diplomat.
“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. The number of 108,000 was selected because 108 is 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 democratic monarchy since 1972, the Bhutanese are very devoted to the royal couple, an effect, perhaps, of how deeply rooted in traditional culture the feel-good county is. They've only had television and Internet since 1999.
Bhutan is unique for its policy of Gross National Happiness, a measure which balances economic growth with environmental conservation and the wellbeing of its people. Imagine that, a place where happiness and the environment are an integral part of governmental policy
It is a country with ambitious plans for sustainability, they’ve already pledged to become the first 100 percent organic nation on Earth and they officially embrace electric vehicles. A quarter of the county's land has been designated as national park or protected area, and the country’s constitution declares that there will always be at least 60 percent of its total area under forest cover.
Meanwhile, as the people planted trees in celebration of the new prince, the Ministry of Tourism used the occasion to inaugurate a “Happiness Garden” in the capital of Thimphu.
The 48,400-square-yard garden will be a place where tourists can plant “happiness trees,” with the aim of having trees representing each country on the planet.
“Bhutan is known as a country of happiness. To have a happiness garden is therefore logical. With this garden, we hope to bring the peoples of the world closer,” Damchoe Rinzin, a spokesperson for the Tourism Council of Bhutan, said.
Whether bringing people of the world closer is possible remains yet to be seen, but as for providing a role model for how countries could be respecting their arboreal citizens, Bhutan gets top marks.