The UK’s abundant woodland has proven health benefits. That’s why Network Rail’s destructive scheme must be opposed

In 2001 there were 1.3bn trees in England. That’s 25 for every person in the country, the highest numbers since the first world war. One article predicted that in 2020 there would be more trees in England than in 1086, when 15% of the country was cloaked in woodland. Part of the reason for this buoyant outlook was the country’s response to the great storm of 1987. We mourned for our ancient yews and the beeches of Chanctonbury Ring. Petitions were drafted, many thousands of saplings were planted. We rebuilt our woods with solemn and impassioned dedication.

The predictions will not fall short. Across the UK, the number of trees has sharply increased. In 2015 there were 3bn trees, the equivalent of 47, a sizeable copse, for every person, around twice as many as in 2001. These statistics might evoke a bosky eden where the wild wood is reclaiming the land, yet recent years have also seen a return of large-scale felling, with Network Rail’s plans to cut down millions more trees the latest example.

Related: Revealed: Network Rail's new £800m scheme to remove all 'leaf...

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".