We’re very happy to see that Wildlife and Countryside Link organisations are as concerned about the current proposals for our public forests as grassroots campaigners have been for many months now.
Here is a link to WCL’s response to the current public forest estate management organisation proposals, as signed by environmental NGO giants the National Trust, Ramblers, Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, CPRE, Friends of the Earth England, Plantlife, Mammal Society, BMC, Bat Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, Campaign for National Parks and the Open Spaces Society:
So far the proposals have missed people’s deep connection to our forests. A vital part of which, alongside forestry and access, is the diversity of habitats and abundance of wildlife that gives resilience to our landscape and that forms our precious public forest estate. As a unique public asset the economics should serve those connections equally and not be the driving force of the new management organisation, which is currently how the proposals are being presented. Tony Whitbread, Chief Executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust puts it brilliantly in his blog post
“Many of the ecosystem services provided by forests are quantifiable, timber production is just one. Many others are of such fundamental importance that they underpin all other values. Forestry, as with any valuation from now on, must fully account for all these services. Indeed forest management should be the natural cause célèbre for this new approach to valuation. Only by doing so will we start to properly value forests – and foresters.
Forest economics must therefore be fundamentally reformed to reflect full natural capital accounting. The full range of public benefits must be properly accounted for, with a hefty contingency allowance for all the essential services which cannot be easily reflected in financial valuation.”
We know that the Forestry Commission understands this, that is why over half a million people demanded that the PFE remains in public ownership, managed by a properly funded Forestry Commission for the benefit of the people and wildlife.
So I ask again, where is it going wrong DEFRA? Who is it in DEFRA that not only doesn’t understand the nature of our public forests but that is unaware if they don’t get this right many thousands of people in constituencies across England will turn on their MP’s and march through their forests? That is not something I’d imagine this Government would want to go through again, especially in the run up to the 2015 election!
The Save Our Forests campaign that instigated this entire process back in 2011 wasn’t just online clicktivism, at it’s foundation was many thousands of people, in every constituency across England, rising up to protect their forests and the trusted public foresters that manage them on our behalf.
It should never be forgotten that our public forest estate was saved by the people, for the people.