Toby Buckland responds to forest sell-off plans


in News

Toby Buckland, BBC Gardeners World presenter, has voiced his concerns to Save Our Woods over government proposals to sell publicly owned forests.

Toby Buckland’s Statement

The government’s ill conceived plan to sell off our forests – the crown jewels in our country’s living heritage – isn’t only unjust and short-sighted it is dangerous. When woodlands are carved up into small parcels their care becomes patchy, wildlife diminishes and they become easy targets for developers.

What worries me most of all, is that the overview needed to care for our native and forestry trees will become increasingly blinkered. The climate is changing and our trees – rooted to one spot – will struggle to keep pace. Add to this the volatile cocktail of deadly plant pathogens new to our shores, such as Sudden Oak death that’s spreading from the South West, the case for uniting the care and scientific study of our woodland becomes irrefutable.

I truly believe that unless a nationwide, co-ordinated approach is taken with our woodlands there is a very real danger that these unwelcome diseases will spread like a plague as Dutch Elm disease has done before.

United we must stand, as divided we fall and so it is for our woodlands.

All the best, Toby Buckland

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Richard Davis February 3, 2011 at 07:12

Dear Toby. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the Forestry Commission and your perceptive statment with this web site.

As a retired FC forester I have the gravest fears for the future of the forests in three fronts:-

1 Preservation of access to freehold woodlands and provisions of recreation both free and commercial.

2 Continued defence of all FC manged Ancient Woodlands, Ancient Woodland sites, SSSIs and Conservation areas.

3 Continuation of production from conifer plantations providing rural employment through sawmills and the forest production programmes and the minimisation of transport created pollution from imports.

To these points I would also add that the commercial wing of the FC pays money back to the Treasury whilst the regulatory wing pays out the subsidies to the private sector thus it is unfair to blame an overall loss on the woodlands. It is also pertinent that any increase in the private sector would increace state payouts.

Finally it is naieve of Mr Cameron to suggest that worthy organisations like the National Trust and the Woodland Trust could administer the woodlands better than the FC. Both organisations have specific areas of strength whilst the FC has for over 90 years been learning, adapting and changing its management skill to answer the demends of different governments including Europe as well as answering the demends of the public, the private sector, conservation bodies AND the Treasury!
Yours sincerely.

Richard Davis
(ex East Anglia Forest District)

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