a people’s vision for the future of England’s woods and forests
Today the campaign to save England’s forests takes a massive step forward with the launch of Our Forests – and SoW are amazed and delighted to be a part of it!
Our Forests has been formed to make sure that the views of the more than half a million people who signed the 38 Degrees ‘Save Our Forests’ petition against the Government’s plans to sell-off the Public Forest Estate in England are listened to.
The people behind Our Forests know that if we want to retain and expand what is currently referred to as the ‘Public Forest Estate’ – but which might be better termed ‘Common Wood & Forest Land’ – then there is an urgent need to ensure the Coalition Government’s ‘Independent Panel on Forestry Policy in England’ considers crucial available evidence and takes on-board grassroots views that are so signally missing from the Panel.
Our Forests exists so that you can be heard.
Please, grassroots campaigners, individuals, anyone who cares about our forests and wants to see them safe and grow, get in touch, share your ideas and concerns, and feel part of Our Forests!
We can’t do it without you.
Jonathon Porritt, one of the founders of Our Forests, said: “The Independent Panel should not be starting its work with a blank sheet of paper. Hundreds of thousands of people and many campaign groups have already given a very clear steer as to the direction of forestry policy in England. The Panel has an extraordinary opportunity to amplify those views and to provide the Government with unambiguous advice as to the critical importance of protecting the Public Forest Estate.”
Although the ‘Independent Panel’ is chaired by the highly-respected Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, Our Forests was created because of the real concerns over how restricted and compromised the Panel will be:
- by its terms of reference;
- by the role some of the national conservation bodies appeared to play during the national outcry against the sell-off plans;
- by the absence of any genuine grassroots representation on the panel.
Hen from SaveOurWoods.co.uk added: “It was the public that fought so hard and forced the Government U-turn on the forest sell-off. If the Independent Panel is to win the trust of the hundreds of thousands of people who stood up for their local woods and forests, it must be seen to take on-board and champion their concerns.”
Our Forests is putting a set of questions directly to individual panel members concerning their readiness to deliver on public expectations:
- Do panel members support the principle and recognise the value of there being a Public Forest Estate – i.e. a substantial body of woodland and forest managed on behalf of the Nation to deliver a multiple range of public benefits?
- What is the formal position of panel members regarding the Government’s earlier disposal plans and any future plans to reduce the area of woodlands under public ownership?
- What are the views of panel members on Defra’s decision to push through these current cuts ahead of any recommendations that the Panel will make?
The seven members of the Our Forests group are:
- Hen Anderson (Save Our Woods)
- Richard Daniels (HOOF in the Forest of Dean)
- Dr Gabriel Hemery (the Sylva Foundation)
- Tony Juniper (writer and former Director of Friends of the Earth)
- Rod Leslie (former Chief Executive, Forest Enterprise)
- Robin Maynard (environmental campaign consultant)
- Jonathon Porritt (Founder Director Forum for the Future).
Our Forests will monitor the work of the ‘Independent Panel’ and make interventions to ensure the public’s concerns and those of grassroots organisations are not by-passed.
And Our Forests will work with 38 Degrees to fashion a long-term vision for the future of England’s public forests – one that is genuinely ‘a people’s vision’ – and which will be submitted to the ‘Independent Panel’ for its own deliberations.
Watch this space – JOIN this space!
- Read the full Our Forests! press release here:
- Here is the page that SoW will publish all comment, publications etc for Our Forests:
- Here is Our Forests summary of the 2009 public consultation: