Save Our Woods takes the campaign to London

01/02/2011

in News

As the campaign and debate about the future of forest ownership and management heats up the Save Our Woods campaigners have been invited to a meeting in the House of Lords to discuss the issues.

In the morning we meet with the House of Lords to discuss these issues and in the early afternoon we have a meeting planned with the opposition party before the debate. We will be fighting the corner of 84% of England’s public and putting across your views, opinions and fears.

This is a huge step forward for the campaign and it’s only your emails, letters, petition signatures and comments that have created this opportunity.

We represent you. If you have any views you would like us to take to MPs and the House of Lords tomorrow, leave your comments below.

We are wildelycreative and hen4.

We have only reached this position in the fight to Save Our Woods because we chose to stand up and say NO, this isn’t right, this must be stopped. It is your continued support that keeps this campaign going.

Never forget, we can win this. Together we can save our publicly owned forest land.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

July R.whitby. February 1, 2011 at 18:31

Why destroy Nature & Ecology for profit. The forrest has taken thousands of years to grow & cannot be replaced. Man made parks destroy the natural enviroment, Wildlife & promote less healthly holidays for people to enjoy.. Follow sweeden , france & others by utilizing our natural beauty more effectively.

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Roger Nodd February 1, 2011 at 22:19

Consider for just a moment what the Forestry Commission (FC) actually do achieve.

Currently the FC in England manages 258,000 hectares of land which represents 18% of all wooded land in the country. Although only a small percentage of the country’s total woodland area, this accounts for 44% of all accessible public access to woodlands and provides 60% of the current production of home grown timber. [1] [2]

Additionally the public forest estate is independently certified to international certification schemes for sustainable forest management. [3]

To achieve this the net operating cost to Government of the Estate is about £15 million. This equates to about £60 per hectare per year or 30p per year for each person in England. [4]

The private sector and other organisations including charities, achieve roughly the same amount of public access as the FC does, but on four times the amount of land area. This clearly demonstrates that the private sector is lacking in its commitment and abilities to provide public access to the high standard the FC does on the public forest estate.

The private sector only provides 40% of the total amount of home grown timber, again utilising four times the land area available to the FC. This clearly demonstrates that the private sector lacks the commitment, skills and abilities to provide the UK timber processing industry with the home produced raw materials it requires to conduct its successful business enterprises.

Regarding the independent certification of woodland to internationally recognised standards for sustainable forest management, all of the public forest estate in England is currently certified to the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification scheme. For non FC woodlands in England, only 16% or 139,000 hectares are similarly certified. This includes all National Trust and Woodland Trust holdings.[5] Here again we see the public forest estate managed by the FC to be way ahead of the private sector in its approach, skills and commitment to independent certification of woodlands.

The FC provide more public access, more home grown timber and more certified woodland, compared to those woods in private hands. Clearly these figures demonstrate that the FC managing the public forest estate has an impressive record of achievement when compared to the private sector.

How does the FC achieve this you may ask? They have nearly a hundred years of continuous experience and expertise in managing forested lands, applied through a cohesive skill base made up of well trained, committed and professional forestry staff. As a result they have a world wide reputation for excellence, and just as importantly enjoy a high level of respect from the local communities they serve and involve in their activities.

Should the forests and woodlands be sold off and the FC be broken up, all this would be lost. The private sector operating in a disjointed, fragmented and self interested way would never be able to replicate the successes of the Forestry Commission on a local, regional, national or international scale.

Can anyone provide factual evidence that the private sector can manage forests and woodlands for multiple objectives, including timber, recreation and biodiversity conservation motives, in a manner that would meet and exceed the performance of the Forestry Commission’s managing of the public forest estate?

To date I have been unable to locate such information. Therefore I can only conclude that the Government’s reasons to privatise the public forest estate are based not on good solid evidence, but either on an attempt to provide the privileged elite with opportunities for tax avoidance [6], or on a fundamentalist ideology.

The legislation the Government intend to use to privatise the public forest estate is called the Public Bodies Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords where it has received much unfavourable criticism. This Bill, by conferring powers on Ministers, effectively removes the means for MPs to have any influence on a Minister’s decision relating to disposal of woodland which is currently part of the public forest estate. When Caroline Spelman or Jim Paice decide to sell off any of our local woodlands, MPs will be powerless to influence that decision, even if they thought that the woods should be retained in public ownership. How can MPs support this bill in the name of promoting the democratic process? [7] [8] [9]

Surely in a democratic society MPs should retain the right, the ability and the mechanisms to enable them to debate, scrutinise and vote upon such fundamental undertakings as disposals of public assets. The public assets in this case being our forests which the biggest society of all, the local, regional and national community of Britain, have invested in, supported and enjoyed the benefits of, for many years. How can MPs surrender this vitally important role of a constituency MP to a single Minister? What have the Government got to hide by adopting this sinister bypassing of democracy?

1. http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/SNSC-05734.pdf

2. http://services.parliament.uk/hansard/Lords/bydate/20101222/writtenanswers/part059.html

3. http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/SNSC-05734.pdf

4. http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/SNSC-05734.pdf

5. http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/SNSC-05734.pdf

6. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/jan/13/english-forests-lost-tax-revenues

7. http://www.parliament.uk/business/news/2010/11/delegated-powers-committee-report-/

8. http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/afua-hirsch-law-blog/2010/nov/09/lords-quangos

9. http://lordsoftheblog.net/2010/11/05/public-bodies-bill/

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Ian Huckson February 1, 2011 at 23:05

I would like all MPs to understand that we believe it makes no sense, economically, culturally, or environmentally, to inflict this upheaval on our woodlands, forests and heathlands. It can only be detrimental to our natural world and our peoples mental and physical health. I am happy to continue to pay my share of tax, as I am sure the majority of all taxpayers are, to preserve the status quo and to allow the Forestry commission to continue the impeccable work they do for us.

Reply

Brian Davy February 1, 2011 at 23:34

I will go to London to protest. How many of your your twitters will do the same ?

Reply

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