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U.K. government plans to plant 50 million new trees in coast-to-coast forest megaproject

Northern England is seriously lacking in greenery. But the U.K. government plans to begin fixing this very soon with the start of a new forest planting megaproject. It’s one that will reportedly see 50 million new trees get planted in what some are calling “one of the least wooded parts of the country.” And if everything goes according to plan, the project will be completed in the next two and a half decades.

According to a report from the BBC, the government is kickstarting the massive new tree planting effort by providing £5.7 million to be used as funds, out of the total projected cost of £500 million that should cover everything for the next 25 years. The resulting forest will be called the Northern Forest. Since the government is only shelling out a small fraction of the overall cost, the rest of the needed funds will have to be raised through charity.

It’s one of the most monumental tree planting plans ever devised, and will cover a number of well-known England cities, such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield, and Hull. In the near-term, the goal is to compensate for one of the worst cases of denudation in all of England – the planned area to be covered currently has less than eight percent tree cover, according to statistics. But in the long term, the goals are more broad. The emphasis will reportedly be on increasing tree cover around major conurbations up to 20 percent. It is said that there will also be a focus on river valleys as well as the wildlife that will undoubtedly live in the newly-planted forest.

According to Austin Brady, the conservation director of the Woodland Trust, which is leading the scheme with local Community Forests in the U.K., the successful completion of the new Northern Forest will rejuvenate areas in which there have been much industrial activity, neglectful farming, and over-grazing. In an interview with BBC News, he was quoted as saying, “We’re delighted the prime minister’s supporting our project – it’s great to get the idea of the Northern Forest on the map.” The collective opinion of the Woodland Trust, meanwhile, is similar: They think the new wooded areas should not be underestimated, since they can help enhance the environment for many people who are living in the northern cities.

This isn’t the first time that the U.K. is attempting such a huge undertaking in relation to trees and forests. Almost 30 years ago, work was started on what is now called the National Forest. And as of this time’s writing, it has already begun to mature and show exactly how transformative it can be in terms of completely reshaping a landscape. Back when work on it began, the goal was “not just about providing a new carbon sink and leisure facility,” according to a report from CityLab. It was also about “imagining what a landscape partly denuded by industrial exploitation and grazing can look like once these uses become obsolete.”

It’s clear now that the U.K. government as well as any and all affiliated organizations have got their work cut out for them. The requirements are high but so is the number of health benefits. How exactly they will pull off the biggest tree planting projects in their country’s history, no one knows for sure. But what’s certain is that if they can find a way to make it happen, it will surely give them something that generations upon generations of successors will find useful and be thankful for as long as it stays in place.

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