(temporary)U-turn on collecting wood in North Wales
mail at vegburner.co.uk
Tue Nov 4 20:34:11 GMT 2008
U-turn on collecting wood in North Wales
Nov 4 2008 by Eryl Crump Daily Post
FREE TO FORAGE
FORAGERS will be allowed to exercise their 800-old right to collect
firewood from North Wales forests this winter after a dramatic U-turn.
There was outrage last week after the Forestry Commission overruled the
Magna Carta and stopped people picking firewood from woodland – because
of health and safety concerns.
But yesterday bosses at the commission announced a dramatic turnaround.
They said they would re-start the policy of allowing people to apply for
30-day licences to collect wood, for £10.50 a go.
The decision will today be celebrated by foragers, as rocketing energy
prices mean more people want to gather cheap fuel on common land.
Among them is Mike Kamp, a 59-year-old retired builder who lives in a
cottage in the Gwydir Forest near Trefriw, in the Conwy Valley. Last
night he said he was delighted.
But there is a drawback: this could be the last winter Mike will be able
to collect firewood for himself. The Forestry Commission still plans to
create a network of local merchants to collect and then sell firewood.
This scheme could be in place by next winter, meaning locals could be
forced by buy wood instead of collecting it.
Forestry Commission Wales spokesman Peter Garson said: “We have heard
the arguments put forward on this issue over the past week and have
listened to those people who are affected by the work we do in
sustainably managing our woodlands.
“Therefore, we are happy to let people know we will resume considering
requests from individuals to collect firewood from our woods this
winter, as we have in the past, where it is considered appropriate.”
Mike said: “I’m delighted we have got this U-turn. It is good news for
me and all the people who live in the forest and those who collect their
own firewood. I would be very disappointed if this was short lived but I
will be seeking assurances this tradition will be allowed to continue in
Last week the Daily Post exclusively revealed forestry chiefs had
decided to overrule Magna Carta for health and safety reasons.
The charter of 1215 included a Forest Charter which recognised the
rights of commoners to get subsistence from common land. They were
granted “estovers” – dead wood – for fuel, to repair their homes, fix
tools or make charcoal.
Mike has used a wood-burning stove at his cottage since moving to North
Wales 12 years ago and now will be able to apply for the 30-day licence
to collect firewood from a specified section of woodland. But Forestry
Commission chiefs warned not everyone may be able to get a licence.
Mr Garson said there may sometimes be sound practical reasons not to
issue a licence, such as the importance of dead and decaying timber as
part of the woodland ecosystem and as a habitat for insects and fungi,
and on a reasonable assessment of the potential risks involved.
He said: “We understand more and more people are turning to wood to heat
their homes and we want to ensure that everybody, including the elderly
and infirm who may not be able to get to their nearest woodland, is able
to have access to this wonderful fuel source. This will be one of the
benefits of moving to a network of local merchants who can supply anybody.”
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