Forest Defence Meeting TMRW Mon | Fwd: Climate Alliance Forest working group meeting
marknbarrett at googlemail.com
Sun Jan 16 14:45:49 GMT 2011
About that golden, olden idea of "the commons" - not FC/state owned, or
private - but "community forests"
in case you missed today:
'there is something far more fundamental about this debate. Ownership by
ministers is a precarious arrangement for any land which people regard
(rightly) as public. It means that sell-offs are always possible even
without the enabling powers being sought under the new [public bodies]
bill.If citizens and communities want to follow through the logic of the
"these are our forests" arguments, then why not imagine a different future
more along the lines of France or Sweden? Why not real community forestry? "
*We can transform our countryside. Put forests in the hands of the people
A campaign to stop the government selling our woodlands misses a great
chance to revolutionise their ownership*
See details of tomorrow's working group meeting below the other forest
Down with the Public Bodies Bill!!
On 16 January 2011 08:40, John Stewart <johnstewart2 at btconnect.com> wrote:
> From today’s Sunday Times.
> John Stewart
> Public barred as forests sold off
> Sale of 30,000 acres of English woodland to private owners angers
conservation groups, as new owners restrict access to a legal minimum
> Jonathan Leake and Selina Cuff
> Published: 16 January 2011
> 90% of Forestry Commission woodland is covered by right to roam laws
> The Government’s Forestry Commission has quietly sold off 30,000 acres of
English woodland, with many sites snapped up by private owners who have
greatly reduced or banned public access.
> The revelation comes as ministers finalise plans for a mass sale of
forests, which could potentially net the Treasury hundreds of millions of
pounds. A consultation paper is due this month.
> Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, has promised all woods sold
will retain existing public rights of access. However, an examination of
those transferred to private ownership shows this may mean little in
> The prospect of what could turn out to be the nation’s biggest land sale
has angered conservationists, leading to the creation of a wave of protest
groups across England. “We have loved and used Westwood, to the north of
Hereford, for walking and mountain biking for years,” said John Gartside, of
Ross-on-Wye. “But one day we turned up and there were big signs saying that
the whole area was now out of bounds.”
> Further investigation revealed Westwood had been quietly sold in February
last year to a private timber company, which then restricted public access
to the legal minimum — in this case a single footpath. Westwood is one of
many hundreds of English sites sold by the Forestry Commission since 1997,
covering a total of 30,000 acres.
> In 2009 alone 51 sites were sold, totalling 2,500 acres, with another 37
woods covering 2,000 acres sold last year.
> Around 90% of the Forestry Commission’s woodlands are covered by the last
Government’s right to roam legislation, so people should still be able to
enter such woods to walk where they choose.
> In practice, however, the sales can see the public excluded by new owners
through the removal of car parks and signs, and the introduction of fences,
gates and other deterrents. Furthermore, the right to roam laws do not cover
cycling and horse riding, so these may be blocked once a wood changes hands.
> Riggs Wood, near Coniston in the Lake District, was sold last October. The
wood was widely used by residents and tourists, partly because of its
convenient car parking. Once it had been purchased, however, locals found
access to the parking area was blocked and signs were erected warning the
woods were “private property”.
> Paul Townsend, founder of Save Lakeland’s Forests, which has highlighted
the changes at Riggs Wood, said: “Access is a prime concern when woods are
sold because even if walkers can still legally enter, cyclists, horse riders
and other users have no such rights.”
> Such protest groups are likely to grow. The Forestry Commission owns about
635,000 acres of woodland in England, and the Public Bodies Bill, now going
through Parliament, will give Spelman the power to sell all of it.
> Whitehall sources have made clear that in practice “heritage” woodlands
such as the New Forest in Hampshire will be kept in public ownership and
only “commercial” plantations will be sold.
> The problem is many woodlands do not fit clearly into one category or the
other, being used for both timber and recreation.
> Spelman’s successors will retain the right to sell off land so, in theory,
even parts of “heritage forests”, such as the Forest of Dean on the Welsh
borders, Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and Thetford Forest in Norfolk,
could eventually be sold too.
> The forthcoming sale is expected to spark a land grab, with power firms
seeking sites to grow biofuels vying with holiday operators, golf course
developers and many more.
> One of the biggest protest groups has sprung up around the Forest of Dean
where a rally recently saw 3,000 people, including Bill Bryson, the author
and president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, march through the
woods before burning an effigy of Westminster’s Big Ben. A delegation will
travel to the House of Lords this week to demand the forest be excluded from
> Fears over parts of Thetford Forest have sparked similar feelings. Anne
Mason, chairwoman of the Friends of Thetford Forest Park, said selling the
woodland was bound to see access restricted. “Private landowners have no
obligation to maintain paths, car parks and other facilities, so even if we
do have a right of access, far fewer people will be able to exercise it,”
> Some campaign groups have become a social networking phenomenon. Save
Cannock Chase already has 2,000 members on Facebook and Twitter protesting
against the possible sale of the Staffordshire forest. Mark Davis, the
group’s founder, said: “ People feel the forests are ours, they want to
> A Whitehall source said Spelman was determined to preserve the public
interest. “Many woodlands were quietly sold when Labour were in power, but
we will not repeat their mistakes,” she said.
> The public, however, remain deeply suspicious. An online petition against
the Forestry Commission sale has 141,000 signatures, while the Save
Britain’s Forests campaign is backed by 10,000 supporters.
> John and Sue Gartside are campaigning against the closure of West Woods
near Hereford (TNL)
> From: Climate Alliance [mailto:info at climatealliance.co.uk]
> Sent: 14 January 2011 11:55
> To: Andrea Oates; Anne Elliott-Day; Edward Hill; Edward Hill; Fiona
Brookes; Gregory Tomlinson; Howard Rees; Lizzi Wagner; Lorraine Adams; Mark
Barrett; Peter Robinson; Philip Pearson; Timothy Baster
> Subject: Climate Alliance Forest working group meeting
> The Climate Alliance Forest working group will be meeting this Monday, the
17th at 5.30 pm at the Grayston Centre (28 Charles Square,
> London, N1 6QS - Ring the bell for the meeting room at the Grayston
Centre, which is 5 minutes walk from Old Street station).
> I know some people cannot make it, but quite a few can.
> Hope to see you then.
> The Climate Alliance
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