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Forest sell off.


By Arlene


just an update~
Many thanks to those who signed the petition~
as we speak 296,025 people have signed the 38 degrees petition on the grounds that as taxpayers we have already paid for and own the land and are paying taxes for the Forestry Commission to manage it.
It’s your money that is being used!
Groups up and down the country are being formed to try to stop the sell off and back in 1992?(I think) a similar plan by the government was also brought to a standstill.

The National Trust have expressed interest in trying to buy some or all of it but the downside for them and any other charitable group will be the cost of ongoing maintenance,never mind trying to make it more biodiverse so it is highly likely they would have to charge for access~
so nothing will be free anymore if this goes ahead~
plus once sold off there will be no scrutiny of what is done by the new owner in all the small forests up and down the land.He could raze the lot or padlock it upas happened in the Lake District!

The consultation process will be going on for the next three months so still time to sign the petition and contact your MP to let him know how you feel.

this is from the Woodland Trust

The consultation – our response
The Government launched ‘Consultation: Future of the public forest estate’ on January 27th.

Why we’re worried?

Sign the petition to save our ancient forests

The Woodland Trust has been quick to respond:


Sue Holden, chief executive at the Woodland Trust, said: "We are disappointed that there is no commitment to restore damaged ancient woods currently in public ownership. If these sites are sold, the current proposals cannot guarantee their restoration, one of the most significant contributions to wildlife conservation in a generation. Why restore these ancient woods? “Ancient woodland needs better protection than it currently has; as the equivalent of the UK’s rainforest it is unique, irreplaceable and our richest wildlife habitat. Whilst we note the Secretary of State’s proposition that safeguards for all woods will remain in place and “could be buttressed further”, our initial reading of the consultation leaves us unclear as to the Government’s proposals about how increased protection could be delivered. Protecting ancient woodland “There are no specific questions asked about the overall effectiveness of existing protection measures. The main suggestion which Government is putting forward is the use of leases which will allow some degree of control and protection over public benefit in all types of forests. This is a proposal which we welcome, although we are disappointed that ancient woods are not treated as a category for special consideration in the categorisation of the estate. “While we fully support the concept of community ownership, we don’t believe that the charitable sector can be the solution to future care of all of the publically owned heritage woodlands, as it will not have the resources to manage these for decades into the future without substantial and sustained government funding. We don’t believe the government has properly considered the feasibility of this option. “We would certainly wish to work in partnership with government to look after the interests of ancient woods, perhaps even through management agreements, if there is no other way to secure their future, but subject to a wide range of considerations around funding for ongoing management, and the detailed terms of transfers. “The paper goes further than anticipated in opening up the entire debate about the function of the Commission, and in attempting to remove the conflict of interest between regulation and management by contemplating the sale of the entire estate. This is extraordinarily bold and points to the process of reform, which will absorb huge amounts of Government and others’ time for years ahead. “There is a great deal to digest and consider within the paper and our formal response will reflect this.”

View the official documents

Sign the petition to save our ancient forests

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Arelene I had a email from 38degrees stateing that in 6 hrs they raised £20.000 and If we can raise £40,000 we can get huge Save Our Forests ads in national newspapers on the day of the vote. Imagine what MPs will think when over breakfast they see our huge people-powered Save Our Forests ads! They'll know we won't stand for their plans to flog our forests.

Why is nt this money going towards to buy some parts of the forest instead of adverts, which will be ignored by the fat cats.

29 Jan, 2011


it's being done to influence opinion which is what is needed to force a change in direction or concessions~
apparently the focus groups in the New Forest and the Forest of dean are being told they can have their forests for free, this is down to local protests and apparently thousands of people are preparing to march in the Lake District in support of Grizedale and other forests up there.
Those who shout most are likely to win sixpence whilst unfortunately the money donated to 38 degrees wouldn't buy a small copse of woods and would generate no publicity.
Both the Woodland Trust and The National Trust are asking for funds in case they have to buy whatever they can but if they do access will not be for free because they can't afford to maintain for nothing, they are both dependent on their members funding. In my opinion and I have already donated £20 and joined the National Trust the best way forward is for Englands forests to be managed by the Forestry Commission thus gauranteeing our trees will be looked after and public access will be maintained. just see the article below which will explian some of the problems which will be caused by selling. This is from the Independent newspaper

his green and private land: 637,000 acres of woodland up for sale

Government unveils controversial plan to raise £250m

By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

Friday, 28 January 2011

The New Forest in Hampshire is regarded as a 'heritage' forests

England's public forests are to be sold off to the private sector for up to £250m, the Government announced yesterday in one of its most contentious policy decisions.

In a move squarely driven by the ideology of the Conservative "Big Society" agenda, most of the 637,000 acres of state-owned woodland in England, owned and maintained by the Forestry Commission, is to be sold off over the next decade, despite an angry campaign of opposition and a recent poll showing 84 per cent of the public are firmly against the idea.

However, the announcement, made by the Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, showed signs of alarm in Whitehall at the antagonism which has been aroused. The Government appeared to be bending over backwards to appease its critics by stressing that a series of safeguards would be built into the process, to ensure continued free public access, good management and wildlife protection in woodlands that were privatised.
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Under proposals put out for public consultation, commercially valuable forests would not be sold freehold, but would be leased under 150-year contracts, which would allow the Government to impose stricter conditions on timber companies taking them over. Communities, civil society and even local authorities would also be given the right to buy or lease forests.

In the biggest olive branch of all, a new category of "heritage forests" – specifically, the New Forest in Hampshire and the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire – would not be sold off, but would be handed to a conservation charity, if one can be found to take them, or a new charity set up for the purpose, which the Government would fund, if no existing body is willing to step in.

The charity the Government would like to take them over is The Woodland Trust, a 230,000-member conservation body which looks after more than 1,000 woodland sites. However, the trust's chief executive, Sue Holden, stressed yesterday that the charity would not be prepared to take on the New Forest and the Forest of Dean unless long-term funding was guaranteed, and ministers addressed the separate issue of preserving ancient woodland, the remnants of England's "greenwood", which are still wildlife-rich. Ancient woodland is not dealt with separately in the consultation.

Announcing the sell-off plan yesterday, which is expected to raise between £140m and £250m and take 10 years to carry out, Mrs Spelman said she hoped that details of the consultation would prove many people's fears unfounded.

"State control of forests dates back to the First World War, when needs were very different," she said. "There's no reason for the Government to be in the business of timber production and forest management. It's time for the Government to step back and allow those who are most involved with England's woodlands to play a much greater role in their future. We want to move from a Big Government approach to a Big Society one."

Asked about the storm of criticism the proposals have aroused, she said: "Well, it hasn't been easy, because a lot of it has been wildly inaccurate, and that has caused a great deal of public consternation." Mrs Spelman said ministers would "make sure that public access is maintained and biodiversity protected" in woodlands which were sold, and to this end, the Public Bodies Bill going through Parliament would be amended to give the Government extra powers over their sale, lease and management.

However, her reassurances met with a mixed reception yesterday. "We are pleased that ministers have stated that our forests will not be chopped down for housing development or conversion into golf courses," said Ben Stafford, of The Campaign to Protect Rural England. "But the public will need much stronger assurances about the future of England's forests, and cast-iron guarantees that future generations will be able to enjoy and have access to the same wooded landscapes and wildlife that we know today."

RSPB conservation director Mark Avery said: "We remain open-minded about these proposals – but we need to be reassured that whoever manages former state-run forests, whether private individuals, companies, leaseholders or trusts and charities, will protect our native wildlife. The Forestry Commission needs to regulate and oversee this management by providing the right support and advice, otherwise this looks like Government offloading its responsibilities to nature."

The Forestry Commission will remain in existence as a research and advisory body, and as a regulator.

What will be sold?

Two very different forests show the varied categories the Government is using in addressing the sell-off, writes Josephine Forster. The New Forest in Hampshire is regarded as a "heritage" forest. It dates back to 1079, when William the Conqueror made it his personal hunting ground. The 145 square miles of ancient woodland, pasture and open heath are unique in southern England for their pristine condition.

The forest's ancient oaks are a national symbol; they were used to build Nelson's Trafalgar fleet and are still sustainably harvested today. The forest is also home to some 3,000 ponies.

By contrast, Kielder Forest in Northumberland is a "commercial" forest, its principal purpose being to produce wood. At 250 square miles, it is England's largest forest and timber producer, providing 25 per cent of our domestic timber, mainly from imported Sitka spruce and Norway spruce, which account for 84 per cent of the forest's trees.

While Kielder may seem appropriate for commercial categorisation, it will require painstaking management, as it is home to 70 per cent of the UK's endangered red squirrels, driven to extinction in most of southern England, and shelters recovering populations of otters, ospreys and goshawks.

If the Forestry Commission is going to have to manage Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland's forests~
none of these are going up for sale at all don't forget~ this is only England's forests~
and oversee other bits which may have to be given away and funding provided for
then the whole thing becomes farcical and should be just left as it is.
It is a mess!!! and that's what 38 degrees is trying to prevent ~

29 Jan, 2011


Yes I do understand as for the Forest of Dean that is a workable forest, for the locals who earn their bread and butter out of it. I too with my daughter a memeber of the Woodland trust we go to gether and donated she and her young daughter has their own tree in a local woodland here. I cannot understand how they were allowed in the first place to do any of this as its not theirs to do this with but the local peoples and was nt the New Forest given from a king providing deer and horses were kept there or some thing like that so to me they are all currupt. Yes it needs publicity to humiliate them all and people should realise the consiqence if these woodland s and forests are felled, they are the carbon foot print also prevents flooding to areas.

29 Jan, 2011


ps great you ve got so many signed up Arlene let hope we get lots more done by it.

29 Jan, 2011

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