Will a forest sale make us Europe’s poor relation?

29/01/2011

in Opinion

We advocate all publicly owned forest land remain publicly owned.

The Woodland Trust and the National Trust have some great experience in managing woodland and the recent announcements from both of them seems to have reassured some that everything will be OK. They’ll have our interests at heart won’t they?

It was reported on the 1pm news on Radio 2 that the NT said they are “considering buying some of the land”.

The future of forest management is up for debate – that’s a certainty. Stronger collaboration between the NT, WT and the Forestry Commission could be a step in the right direction in terms of forest management. But OWNERSHIP is a separate issue. And at a real cost of just £15 million per year to the taxpayer, should it even be considered?

The WT and NT are taking on the fight to save our ancient woodlands and we wholeheartedly support their aims.

Save Our Woods  are taking the fight one stage further by campaigning for ALL publicly owned forest land to remain publicly owned. That includes the heathland, bogs and 560 buildings the public own and may be threatened by a sale.

Both the NT and the WT seem to only be speaking of ‘Heritage Forests’. This still leaves the vast majority of the public forest estate un- ‘saved’. Questions around access, and the very future of it remain.

Now is not the time to be debating forestry management – now is the time to stop the threat of sale of all publicly owned forest land. Once the threat of sale is passed, then we can debate public forest management.

The biggest thing that everyone seems to be overlooking in all this is that 84% of us don’t want the forests to leave public ownership. Once they do, even with ‘assurances’ who knows what could happen in the future. And it’s easy to forget that neither the Woodland Trust or the National Trust are public bodies.

Once again, Britain is being led against the flow. In most other European countries the huge majority of forestry is publicly owned. In most other European countries there is far more forest coverage than in the UK. The Forestry Commission is a world leader in forestry research.

Will we become the poor relation on this like we have so many times before?

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