Stars campaign to save England's forests

Tony Gosling tony at
Wed Jan 26 23:01:31 GMT 2011

1. An attempt to change the law governing 
ownership of the public forests is already 
underway. Ministers are trying to seize the 
authority to sell all our forests through three 
short clauses inserted into the Public Bodies 
Bill, which is currently being debated in the House of Lords.
Why are they seeking authority to dispose of the 
forests prior to any consultation, without 
presenting any concrete proposals, and in a Bill 
primarily addressing a completely different question?
Jim Paice MP, Minister for Agriculture and Food, 
has been frank about the reason: ‘opportunities 
for legislation do not come very often’.

2. This proposal has already been rejected in 
Wales and Scotland. In Scotland a previous 
campaign against radical privatisation of public 
forests was led by Chief Secretary of the 
Treasury Danny Alexander, now a member of the Cabinet.

3. Although the government requires a change in 
the law to sell the entirety of the English 
public forests, it is already planning a sale of 
15% of the estate, for which it believes no 
permission is required. This amounts to 40,000 
hectares of land – an area larger than the Isle of Wight.

4. Our public forests are managed to balance 
economic, social and environmental objectives and 
to provide timber, recreation, access and 
conservation for the benefit of all and in 
perpetuity. Although some protections will be 
maintained through legislation like the 
Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW), there 
will be no guarantee of continued provision for 
horse-riders, cyclists or dog-walkers, and the 
high standard of access and accessibility 
currently maintained will not be required.The 
former Chair of the Forestry Commission has 
outlined some of the risks involved in a 
widespread sale here, while Jonathan Leake in the 
Sunday Times (paywall) has described the chilling 
effects of previous forest sales on public access and enjoyment.

5. At the time of writing, over 158,000 people 
have signed the online petition rejecting the current proposals.
Serious concerns have also been registered by, 
among many others, the Woodland Trust, the 
Confederation of Forest Industries, the RSPB, the 
Wildlife Trusts, the British Horse Society, the Ramblers and the Kennel Club.
Local campaigning groups are building support in 
areas as diverse as the Forest of Dean, Haldon 
Forest near Exeter, Thetford Forest in East 
Anglia, Cannock Chase, the Lake District and 
Sherwood Forest, and new groups are forming 
rapidly. Find out how to get involved by clicking “What can I do?” at the top.

Stars campaign to save our forests
by Adrian Shaw, Daily Mirror 24/01/2011

LEADING public figures and celebrities launched a 
campaign yesterday to stop the Tory-led coalition 
selling some of Britain’s beautiful public forests.

The Government wants to raise up to £100million 
by selling 15% of Forestry Commission land.

But Save England’s Forests has been formed in 
protest, with members including Dame Judi Dench, 
Annie Lennox and Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.

In a letter to the Coalition, signed by almost 
100 dignitaries, they say: “We, who love and use 
the forests, believe that such a sale would be misjudged and shortsighted.

“It is our heritage. We are an island nation yet 
more people escape to the forest than the seaside.”

A weekend opinion poll showed 75% of people are 
against the sale. Many fear our forests would be destroyed if sold off.
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