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Bhutan is often overlooked by the international community. The small nation lies deep within the Himalayas between China and India, two of the most populated countries in the world.

But the country of about 750,000 people has set some impressive environmental benchmarks. As we’ve written about in the past, Bhutan is not merely carbon neutral, it’s also a carbon sink—making it one of the few countries in the world to have negative carbon emissions.

The Punakha Dzong (the Palace of Great Happiness). It’s located at the confluence of Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu (Mother and Father rivers) in Bhutan. Photo credit: Marina and Enrique / Flickr

This means the country’s carbon sinks, such as its forests, absorb more carbon dioxide each year than its sources of pollution, such as factories, emit.

“According to recent figures, the country emits around 1.5 million tonnes of carbon annually, while its forests absorb over 6 million tonnes,” Proudly Carbon Neutral said.

To boot, Bhutan is aiming for zero net greenhouse gas emissionszero-waste by 2030 and to grow 100 percent organic food by 2020. The Himalayan nation is currently 72 percent forested and the constitution requires that no less than 60 percent of it remains forested. It has even banned export logging.

Trees hold special value in Buddhism, the nation’s dominant religion. Last June, a team of 100 volunteers set a world record for planting 49,672 trees in just one hour. And earlier this month, to celebrate the birth of the first child of King Khesar and Queen Jetson, all 82,000 households in Bhutan planted a tree, while volunteers planted another 26,000 in various districts around the country, for a total of 108,000 trees.

Bhutan also refuses to judge its success on Gross Domestic Product, instead using an index that measures Gross National Happiness.

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