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sell off of our forests!


By Arlene


This is from todays Telegraph~
there must be better things to do than this to raise money~
LOGGING for goodness sake! I am not convinced this will be done well!
If you are not happy write to your MP!

Ministers plan huge sell-off of Britain’s forests
Ministers are planning a massive sell-off of Britain’s Government-owned forests as they seek to save billions of pounds to help cut the deficit, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

By Patrick Hennessy and Rebecca Lefort
Published: 8:30PM BST 23 Oct 2010


Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.

The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

Legislation which currently governs the treatment of “ancient forests” such as the Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest is likely to be changed giving private firms the right to cut down trees.

Laws governing Britain’s forests were included in the Magna Carta of 1215, and some date back even earlier.

Conservation groups last night called on ministers to ensure that the public could still enjoy the landscape after the disposal, which will see some woodland areas given to community groups or charitable organisations.

However, large amounts of forests will be sold as the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) seeks to make massive budget savings as demanded in last week’s Spending Review.

Whitehall sources said about a third of the land to be disposed of would be transferred to other ownership before the end of the period covered by the Spending Review, between 2011 and 2015, with the rest expected to go by 2020.

A source close to the department said: “We are looking to energise our forests by bringing in fresh ideas and investment, and by putting conservation in the hands of local communities.”

Unions vowed to fight the planned sell-off. Defra was one of the worst-hit Whitehall departments under the Spending Review, with Ms Spelman losing around 30 per cent of her current £2.9 billion annual budget by 2015.

The Forestry Commission, whose estate was valued in the 1990s at £2.5 billion, was a quango which was initially thought to be facing the axe as ministers drew up a list of arms-length bodies to be culled.

However, when the final list was published earlier this month it was officially earmarked: “Retain and substantially reform – details of reform will be set out by Defra later in the autumn as part of the Government’s strategic approach to forestry in England.”

A spokesman for the National Trust said: "Potentially this is an opportunity. It would depend on which 50 per cent of land they sold off, if it is valuable in terms of nature, conservation and landscape, or of high commercial value in terms of logging.

“We will take a fairly pragmatic approach and look at each sale on a case by case basis, making sure the land goes to the appropriate organisations for the right sites, making sure the public can continue to enjoy the land.”

Mark Avery, conservation director for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) said: "You can understand why this Government would think ‘why does the state need to be in charge of growing trees’, because there are lots of people who make a living from growing trees.

“But the Forestry Commission does more than just grow trees. A lot of the work is about looking after nature and landscapes.”

“We would be quite relaxed about the idea of some sales, but would be unrelaxed if the wrong bits were up for sale like the New Forest, Forest of Dean or Sherwood Forest, which are incredibly valuable for wildlife and shouldn’t be sold off.

“We would look very carefully at what was planned. It would be possible to sell 50 per cent if it was done in the right way.”

A Defra spokesman said: "Details of the Government’s strategic approach to forestry will be set out later in the autumn.

“We will ensure our forests continue to play a full role in our efforts to combat climate change, protect the environment and enhance biodiversity, provide green space for access and recreation, alongside seeking opportunities to support modernisation and growth in the forestry sector.”

Allan MacKenzie, secretary of the Forestry Commission Trade Unions, said: "We will oppose any land sale. Once we’ve sold it, it never comes back.

“Once it is sold restrictions are placed on the land which means the public don’t get the same access to the land and facilities that are provided by the public forest estate.

“The current system means a vast amount of people can enjoy forests and feel ownership of them. It is an integral part of society.”

In 1992 John Major’s Conservative government – also looking to save money in a recession – drew up plans to privatise the Forestry Commission’s giant estate, which ranges from huge conifer plantations to small neighbourhood woodlands.

John Gummer, then the Agriculture Minister, wrote to cabinet colleagues saying that he ‘wanted to raise money and get the forest estate out of the private sector’. Mr Major backed the sell- off which, it was hoped, would raise £1 billion.

However it was later abandoned following a study by a group of senior civil servants, amid widespread public opposition.

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And we're surprised!

24 Oct, 2010


~if this idea was seen off last time by public opposition, it can be done again!

24 Oct, 2010


I doubt it. This is a very different place nowadays.

24 Oct, 2010


i cant believe this new goverment, going back on everything they fooled us all into believing, not me though i think they are all as bad as one another, all for the rich and themselves and nothing for us "so called" normal folk, becomming a country where freedom wont exsist anymore, i`ll shut up now cause when i get going lol, im so fed up of them taking the good things away and making money, rather than cutting their own bugets and making the rich richer and the poor poorer ;o((( why dont they just make us comunist and have done grrrr

24 Oct, 2010


I can't believe that anyone even listened to them! Big fuss made about the deficit, but as a percentage of GDP, it's lower than it was in the early nineties.
I'd better shut up too now!

24 Oct, 2010


Logging, if properly managed, can benefit the land but usually that is done by reforestation...I think that is a significant part of the Forestry Division's work.

If these forests are cut down and the land goes into developer's hands it means many will not enjoy the outdoors as they can now

I do hope public opinion will again be successful in halting these plans.

24 Oct, 2010


Hi Sandra and Meanie
If it wasn't for the Liberals this lot wouldn't be in power~
~maybe this explains~From Wikipedia
Clegg was educated at the private Caldicott School at Farnham Royal in South Buckinghamshire, and later at the private Westminster School in London. As a 16-year-old exchange student in Munich, Germany, he was sentenced to a term of community service after he and a friend burned a collection of cacti belonging to a professor. When news of the incident was later reported during his time as Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Clegg said it was something he was "not proud" of.[15]

He spent a gap year as a skiing instructor in Austria, before attending Robinson College, Cambridge in 1986.[16] Clegg studied Social Anthropology at Cambridge University and was active in the student theatre; he acted alongside Helena Bonham Carter in a play about AIDS, and under director Sam Mendes.[16][17][18] He was captain of the college tennis team, and campaigned for the human rights organisation Survival International.[19] In 2008 it was reported that while at university, Clegg had joined the Cambridge University Conservative Association between 1986 and 1987, with contemporary membership records citing an "N. Clegg" of Robinson College. (At the time, Clegg was the only person of that name at Robinson.) However, Clegg himself later maintained he had "no recollection of that whatsoever".
Clegg's wealth is estimated at £1.9m.
~true colours?

24 Oct, 2010


Power will overcome principles every time!
Enough politics! I will support any opposition movement however.

24 Oct, 2010


Thanks for typing out all that article from the Telegraph, Arlene, it must have taken you ages! I felt appalled when/while reading it! It's the first I have heard on this. I hope public opinion does make a difference this time as well. Last time it happened I was living in Spain & knew nothing about it.

Do you know of any petition being organized in protest against this sort of thing happening? I'd sign one immediately!

John Mayor used to be MP for Huntingdon, where I live! Cromwell, who ruled the country, was born here & his Grammar school is now a museum about him!

26 Oct, 2010


~ Hi Balcony~
the wonders of 'cut and paste" on an imac mean you can transfer text in seconds!must be something similar on a pc?
I have written to' 38 Degrees' who run petitions to ask them to take this one on, anyone can write and ask them to look at this as a campaign and the more that do ask the more likely they are to run it! and as a member of the Woodland Trust will be writing to them as well as my MP.
Back in the day you could do online petitions gaining thousands of signatures on the number 10 website but surprise surprise it was taken offline by the new govt!

If this all goes into private hands god help the countryside and the wildlife!

26 Oct, 2010


Whoever came up with "Copy & Paste" idea did a marvellous thing! I use it a lot on my PC. Can transfer from the web to the PC & vice versa. If we had to copy by hand everything a lot would never get done & it would take forever!

I didn't know the Petitions page on No. 10's site had been taken down! I had that in mind when I asked if you knew of any petition as I've signed up on 2 or 3.

Found the site & will have a look a little later. Thanks for that.

26 Oct, 2010


~ me too ! They took it offline as soon as the results were announced for the general election and the new government got in~ 'under review' apparently.....otherwise might be inundated with cross voters!......

26 Oct, 2010


LOL! :-D

26 Oct, 2010


My experience is that an individual letter carries a lot more weight, especially if you request a reply, than a petition. It might be worthwhile alerting local MP's and environmental groups too. Just a suggestion.

26 Oct, 2010


~ Hi Whistonlass~ some of the number 10 petitions had half a million + signatures and I think some of them have definitely had results, however a letter to my MP will be winging its way~he does always answer ~I have had several replies and the 38 degrees site often has the facility to send direct to your MP via the site.

26 Oct, 2010


My MP is Cammoclown, so I doubt it would be worth the effort!!

26 Oct, 2010


Maybe we should all write to him at no 10's website and ask him why the e petition site is down!

Some info on 38 degrees

People - The Staff Team
Staff Volunteers Members Board

38 Degrees has a small team of staff in London. Over the next few months we hope to be recruiting some brilliant web developers and some enthusiastic volunteers, so if you are interested in working or volunteering with us please get in touch.

David Babbs
Executive Director

David works with other groups, charities and individuals to build our people powered movement. Sometimes he talks about our campaigns on the TV and radio. David makes sure that our campaigns are led by our members and achieve real impact.

David previously worked as Head of Activism at Friends of the Earth where he led the mobilisation for the Big Ask campaign, which achieved the world’s first Climate Change Law with binding targets. He’s previously worked on campaigns on poverty, refugee rights, and social housing.

Hannah Lownsbrough
Campaigns Director

Hannah runs many of 38 Degrees' campaigns, as well as spending time promoting our work online, meeting with other organisations who share our priorities and managing our volunteering programme.

Before she worked at 38 Degrees, Hannah helped to run campaigns on climate change and human rights. She has also been a researcher at Demos and she is a trustee for Crisis, the national organisation for single homeless people.

Johnny Chatterton
Digital Campaigns Manager

Johnny runs some of the 38 Degrees campaigns, blogs, writes emails and also develops the 38 Degrees e-campaigning strategy. He is often on Twitter and Facebook.

Johnny was formerly Campaigns Officer at the Burma Campaign UK and was Project Manager of He has been involved with a number of successful campaigns against companies including HSBC and Cotton traders.

26 Oct, 2010


some news!
New Campaign: Stop the forest sell off

October 26th, 2010
Wildlife would be put at risk with these plans

We heard about government plans to sell off national forests to private firms. These plans sparked a strong reaction on our facebook page. The fear is that national treasures will be chopped down to make way for center parc style holiday resorts, golf courses and logging companies.

Thousands of 38 Degrees members have already signed a petition to show the government how strongly we feel about this issue. The government think that they can slip this decision through parliament. If thousands of us sign the petition we can force them to reconsider their plans.

These plans would cause irreversible damage to Britain’s woodlands. 38 Degrees members are already involved in campaigns to save the NHS and to protect green jobs, and we can show the government that their plans to sell off our forests will not go unnoticed.
also this comment

The Scottish Executive tried to privatise 25% of Scotland's forests a couple of years back and were stopped by a campaign that included Scottish Liberal Democrats and other Scottish environmental organisations (see That level of co-operation is required to stop the same happening in England & Wales. The UK Government can't sell off Scotland's forests.

27 Oct, 2010


if you want to sign the petition go to

38 Degrees | Save Our Forests

27 Oct, 2010


Thanks Arlene, I went to the address you gave above & signed the petition & also emailed a copy to as many of my email contacts as possible here in the UK.

27 Oct, 2010


Me too!

27 Oct, 2010


Me too!

27 Oct, 2010

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