Sunday, 30 January 2011

Woodlands for Sale?

Courtesy of Tim Ireland / the Guardian

There have been some astonishing stories in the news recently but this one really took me by surprise. Now, in a way to save money, the UK Government are proposing to sell off Britain's woodlands. 

Want to see a strategic map of the forests potentially being sold off? Check out the link below...

According to the Telegraph, the Government has announced it's intention to sell off 15% of all land owned by the Forestry Commission in the hope of raising as much as £100 million. The Forestry Commission are Britain's largest land manager of woodlands, they are responsible for turning degraded land into open space enjoyable for all and to protect species, improve habitats and preserve historical sites. 

The Telegraph has reported that "campaigners have warned that selling off public forests will lead to woodlands being destroyed and not maintained, and the public being barred access to land. There is also the fear that some sites may in time be vulnerable to developments". 

The National Trust has spoken out about the Government's plans, stating that the national wide concern over this issue is testimony to their importance and I totally agree. It is devastating to think that future generations may never see the true value of our woodlands. 

It is very clear that there is a lot of passion out there to keep our forests open and freely accessible to everyone. At the end of the day nature should be enjoyed by all... Why would someone want to sell off such an important asset. Surely a healthy Britain needs this resource?

Online campaigners 38 Degrees have put together a petition to raise the profile of the Government's proposals and bring around a real change in the UK. 38 Degrees are arguing that "even if the Government is stopped from selling off forests, this time, the Bill would allow future Governments to do it at any time". Do we really want this risk?

If you want to get involved in this campaign click on the link below and sign the petition:

Another interesting and very informative website is Save Our Woods. They are doing brilliant things to raise awareness and encouraging others to start their own campaigns. Check out their website to find out how you can help!
Following pressure from campaigners it is understood that the Government is to rethink its proposals the Guardian has reported. The Government has claimed that initial plans had been misunderstood with only commercial forests being leased to the private sector, with smaller parcels of woodland offered to community groups to manage. This is positive news which shows the influence of campaigns. 

Ben Stafford, Campaign to Protect Rural England's (CPRE) Head of Campaigns has spoken out to say: 

"We are pleased that the Government appears to be listening to the strong concerns of the public. We now want Ministers to give some clear long term guarantees that any change in woodland ownership will not undermine the quality of the landscape, the rich diversity of wildlife or people's ability to get out there and enjoy our forests". 

Good news for a closing statement.....

The Forestry Commission have since announced that "the transfer of heritage forests to charitable trusts will mean walkers, riders and cyclists will still be able to enjoy them as they do at the moment". 

© Katie J Anderton

1 comment:

  1. Quick update everyone: Check out this article...

    Our voices and actions are so important. What a brilliant result!