2011 has certainly earned its place in future textbooks with regards forestry, conservation and land management in the UK.
Public revolt over the Public Forest Estate disposal consultation had been forewarned by many academics, but the use of the internet and social media enabling a campaign to go further than ever imagined was a new and welcome phenomenon.
Julian Cottee of the Oxford University has researched the Save Our Forest campaign for his MSc, it makes fascinating reading and his conclusions show that SOW was the online hub for the campaign. You can read his research in full here: Anatomy of Controversy, A research journey into the woods by Julian Cottee – Oxford Uni MSc research
When the draft NPPF raised its ugly head, this new medium was again put to the test. The resulting DCLG Commons Select Committee report on the NPPF including all major highlighted concerns which had appeared on blogs, twitter and elsewhere.
We can now talk across the chasms of different interests; rapidly, openly and with success, as it is clear that much online chatter is picked up on and used by policy makers and lobbyists.
But there are still a huge amount of relevant and important voices excluded from the debate. And this is where we at SOW and others have tried to help and promise we will continue to do so.
We welcome the forestry panel interim report [ SOW Response to forestry panel’s progress report ] but feel there is still a lack of representation of important and very relevant voices, from the private sector, practitioners, academics and most importantly a lack of proper discussion with regards urban trees and city green space.
We are concerned about the ongoing budget cuts to the Forestry Commission and the consequences of the FC merger in Wales.
We are concerned at sales of all public estate, which show a short-sighted ‘quick fix’ economic attitude.
There is an economic future in the rural and city green space landscape. The adage ‘if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem’ is very true and at SOW we have been working alongside some great people in trying to find real solutions, these will be forthcoming next year.
We will continue to highlight good case study, big and small projects of worth both public and private, we will continue to look abroad at what other countries are doing and above all continue to talk about trees.
We want to thank all those who have contributed to SOW, both behind the scenes and by submitting articles. We have gained a huge audience and this is the result of the honesty, knowledge and passion of our contributors.
Next year is going to be an incredible year and we have many great contributions and articles waiting to be published. Watch this space with regards a fantastic new initiative, we are proud to be associated with!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!