This past week the SOW team have been taking stock and planning the next step of the campaign to protect our Public Forest Estate. This will be solidified after the meeting of all the local and national campaigns this Saturday in the Forest of Dean. (get in touch if you are a local campaign that wants to attend).
There are still some fantastic articles out there, notably this one from Tony Whitbread of the Sussex Wildlife Trust that are keeping our attention on the fact that the campaign is far from over. And it is FAR from over.
The “u-turn” of the government, in our view, was more of a side step. Our only (amazing!) success is having the Forestry clauses removed from the Public Bodies Bill.
The government also removed the public consultation document but, so far, have failed to replace it with an alternative means for the public to have their voice heard on the future of our Public Forest.
Instead, the future of our Public Forest Estate will be placed in the hands of five, yet to be named, members of an ‘independent’ panel of experts.
Yes, that’s FIVE.
We strongly believe that the public should be witness to the panel’s proceedings. A representative for the public should attend each meeting and, if not in real time, then immediately after share the content of the meeting with the public. There should then be a means of feeding back to the panel the public response to their ideas.
Why wouldn’t the government or members of the panel want this?