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The Vertical Forest high-rise complex (Bosco Verticale) in Milan, as viewed from the Porta Nuova Gardens on October 28, 2019. Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty Images

By Alan Simson

The 21st century is the urban century. It has been forecast that urban areas across the world will have expanded by more than 2.5 billion people by 2050.

The scale and speed of urbanization has created significant environmental and health problems for urban dwellers. These problems are often made worse by a lack of contact with the natural world.

With research group the Tree Urbanistas, I have been considering and debating how to solve these problems. By 2119, it is only through re-establishing contact with the natural world, particularly trees, that cities will be able to function, be viable and able to support their populations.

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A campaign to plant one trillion trees made headlines. Experts say it's not a panacea. sarayut Thaneerat / Moment / Getty Images
It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees — a lot of trees — all over the world, and watch the planet's temperature fall.
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Greening the barren mountain has helped recharge groundwater levels in the villages. Photo by Gurvinder Singh. Mongabay India

By Gurvinder Singh

Jamini Mohan Mahanty is out for a morning walk every day. At 91, he is hale and hearty. A resident of Jharbagda village in Purulia district, West Bengal, Mahanty thanks the "green mountain" in his village for having added some extra years to his life.

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Participants at the tree-planting event in Ankazobe district, Madagascar, on Jan. 19. Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy / Mongabay

By Malavika Vyawahare, Valisoa Rasolofomboahangy

Madagascar has embarked on its most ambitious tree-planting drive yet, aiming to plant 60 million trees in the coming months. The island nation celebrates 60 years of independence this year, and the start of the planting campaign on Jan. 19 marked one year since the inauguration of President Andry Rajoelina, who has promised to restore Madagascar's lost forests.

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Owengarriff River along the Kerry Way, Ireland at Killarney National Park. David Madison / The Image Bank / Getty Images Plus

Ireland will plant 440 million trees by 2040 as part of its efforts to combat the climate crisis, The Irish Times reported Saturday.

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Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed plants a tree in Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office

About 353 million trees were planted in a single day in Ethiopia on Monday, setting a new world record for seedling plantings, as CNN reported.

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Tree lined street, UK. Richard Newstead / Moment / Getty Images

The UK government will fund the planting of more than 130,000 trees in English towns and cities in the next two years as part of its efforts to fight climate change, The Guardian reported Sunday.

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leonard_c / E+ / Getty Images

By Tim Radford

For forests, it really does help to be young. British scientists who have identified the vital factor that shows what makes a forest a good carbon sink say young forests use carbon best and absorb it most efficiently.

A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seems on the face of it to settle an old puzzle with an unsurprising answer. New and young forests make the most efficient and effective carbon sinks.

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Shivraj Singh Chouhan

The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh set a new Guinness World Record on Sunday after 1.5 million volunteers planted more than 66 million tree saplings in just 12 hours along the Narmada river.

The effort bested the state of Uttar Pradesh's previous record-breaking feat, when 800,000 participants planted 50 million trees in one day in July 2016.

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More than 800,000 people turned out Monday in India to plant trees in hopes of breaking a world record.

Uttar Pradesh officials distributed 50 million tree saplings across the state to help India increase its forest cover and to break the Guinness World record for the number of trees planted in 24 hours—which was set by Pakistan in 2013 with 847,275 trees—the AP reported. Students, lawmakers, government officials and others headed out to plant trees at designated spots along roads, rail tracks and in forested lands.

Uttar Pradesh's Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, told the AP that this record-breaking attempt would help spread awareness and enthusiasm about afforestation and conservation.

"The world has realized that serious efforts are needed to reduce carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of global climate change. Uttar Pradesh has made a beginning in this regard," he said.

The Indian government is encouraging all states to start tree-planting drives like the one in Uttar Pradesh. The government has designated more than $6.2 billion for this purpose alone. India pledged to push its forest cover to 235 million acres by 2030.

Sites where the saplings have been planted with be monitored through aerial photographs, Sanjeev Saran, senior forest official, told the AP. Normally, only 60 percent of saplings survive so it is important for the government to check how many are thriving or dying.

Auditors from Guinness World Records, working "incognito" according to Saran, are checking on the numbers of saplings planted.

"They are out in the field and are supervising the plantation drive," he said. "We do not know who they are or where they are at this point in time."