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COLUMN: United Kingdom's reforestation efforts are a positive step

By 2050, people who live in northern England will be able to travel through 62,000 acres or 120 mile area of forestry along the M62 highway, which travels across the width of England. 

The United Kingdom is trying to repopulate their forests, which is simply amazing. It will take approximately 50 million trees to do so, but I believe the effort will pay off in the long run. 

Before anyone gets doubts about the likelihood of this working, this is actually England’s second run in creating large forests. The first was creating the National Forest, which covers 200 square miles in the center of England. 

Despite this, England, as well as the rest of the U.K., ranks 77th worldwide in terms of how much forestry is in each country. For the United Kingdom, it is only 3.696 megahectare or almost 9.1 million acres compared to the number one country, Russia, at 761.227 megahectare or almost 1.9 billion acres. 

England desperately needs these forests, as they have less than 10 percent of their land covered by trees. Another perk of this forest project is the prospective jobs that will come with planning, planting and maintaining the trees. The previous project took more than 20 years to fully flourish to maturity, where it is now. 

I truly commend England for taking initiative to change their ecological environment and make it better for future generations. On the home front, though, there isn’t much being done.

According to the USDA, in 2015, Indiana had 4.9 million acres of forest land. However, recent actions by the Indiana legislature may reduce this number. Yellowwood State Forest lost 299 acres to a logging service last November. Despite protests and offers to buy out loggers, the trees were still sold and will still be logged. 

Indiana has 12 beautiful state forests, but we cannot be taking away from any of them anymore. They each have native wildlife that could be endangered by deforestation.

Creating forests does more than just make the landscape prettier, keep species alive and generate national funds. A study in 2014 conducted by David Nowak with USDA Forest Service showed that large amounts of forests and tree life can reduce air pollution greatly and prevent it in the future. He estimated that approximately 17.4 million tons of pollution were removed by trees in 2010. 

In the 2017 State of the Air report, The American Lung Association said more than 18 million people in the United States live in an area where the air quality failed all three air tests for ozone and short and long-term particle pollution. In the report's ranking of most polluted cities Indianapolis ranked 13th in a three-way tie. This is higher than cities like Detroit, New York City and Houston. 

Trees help the most in urban areas, and Indianapolis is the biggest urban area of the state. We could benefit from a possible forest project like the one in England, or we could at least stop destroying the forests we already have.

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