Forest sell-off rethink


in Opinion

Well, it looks like the Government will think again about their proposals for the Public Forest Estate.

If it is true then the withdrawal of Clauses 17-19 of the Public Bodies Bill will mean the Government cannot rush to dismantle the Forestry Commission and sell-off all our woods and forests.

But there will still be cuts right across Government and David Cameron is still committed to his ‘big society’ agenda, so the potential for the sale of large amounts of our Public Forest Estate still looms large.

What next?

We need Government, DEFRA and the Forestry Commission Executives to:

  • recognise the valuable, efficient and innovative work of the FC Rangers
  • recognise the importance of the existing FC Volunteer schemes, Grant schemes and collaboration with other stakeholders in realising the “big society” in forestry
  • recognise the importance of the sustainable infrastructure the FC is a part of in working with private companies, external agencies and NGOs all over the country and it shouldn’t just be swept away
  • help deliver more of the things we all want from our woodlands and the outcome of the 2009 consultations on the “Long Term Role of the Public Forest Estate” would be a good place to start
  • tell people honestly and openly what could be delivered, what benefits there would be and why, what would not be delivered, what we would not get and why (like the Forestry Commission did in its “New Forest – New Futures” consultations)

We are concerned about what having an “Environmental Panel” will mean.  Will it take the next stage of deciding the future of our PFE into secret?

We need everyone who loves our woodlands to continue the debate about sustainable forest management and land use to make sure access for all, biodiversity, ancient woodland, SSSI sites and wildlife are enhanced and protected in perpetuity.
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carolyn February 17, 2011 at 08:28

Congratulations! but I share your concern. Might it be advisable to request a consultation with yourselves, HOOF & 38degrees and propose that you have representation on the proposed environmental panel?

We also need to know whether or not the Public Bodies Bill will be amended accordingly before being presented in Parliament.

MickETalbot February 17, 2011 at 08:42

Wonderful news, hope there is no double U turn

Tony Greaves February 19, 2011 at 00:24

“We also need to know whether or not the Public Bodies Bill will be amended accordingly before being presented in Parliament.”

It’s already in Parliament of course (in committee stage in the Lords). We will have to wait until we get to clauses 17-19 before we can remove them. It will probably be another 3 weeks before the last rites are administered to these clauses!

I think what will happen is that the government minister (Lord Taylor of Holbeach) will add his name to my “stand part amendments” to remove them from the Bill and it will all happen with minimum fuss.

Tony Greaves

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