Bhutan holds the rare distinction of a country that is not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative.
Officially “The Kingdom of Bhutan”, this country is located in the Eastern Himalayas and boasts dramatic landscapes and a culture that takes great pride in their land’s natural beauty.
The key to Bhutan’s “carbon negative” status is its forests. Large forested areas absorb more carbon dioxide than the country produces. Estimates place the country’s CO2 emissions at 1.5 million tons per year, while the forests absorb more than 6 million tons per year.
Different species of trees will absorb different amounts of CO2. As an example, the Empress Splendor is one of the most effective carbon absorbing trees, and each tree can soak up over one ton of CO2 every year. There are even carbon offset programs built around this tree in North America.
Bhutan’s constitution guarantees that at least 60% of the country will remain forested. Currently, over 70% of the country is covered with forest.
In 2015, the country even set a world record by planting 49,672 trees in just one hour. In 2016, people planted 108,000 trees to celebrate the birth of their new prince.
People in Bhutan care a great deal about their environment. Their government pioneered the use of a “Gross National Happiness” index (which focuses on the happiness of its citizens) rather than using the typical “Gross National Product” index (which focuses on economic gain).