If ever there was a time for Druids and their friends to mobilise to protect the environment and our heritage this is it! The UK government is planning a massive sell off of our national forests.This could mean our ancient woodlands are chopped down and ruined. Wildlife, walkers and cyclists would have to make way for Centre Parcs style holiday villages, golf courses and commercial logging. We can’t let that happen. We need to stop these plans. National treasures like the The Forest of Dean, Sherwood Forest and The New Forest could be sold off. Once they are gone, they will be lost forever.
Forum For the Future says: ‘The Conservatives have got past form on flogging off our forests. They managed to dispose of around 37,000 hectares under Mrs Thatcher and John Major – at which point, only a determined campaign by the Ramblers prevented further damage. This time round, ministers have indicated that about 40,000 hectares will be put on the market just as soon as possible.
More to the point are the discussions going on between Defra ministers and the Forestry Commission about the feasibility of selling off the whole lot – all 250,000 hectares that comprise the public forest estate. But they can’t do that without new legislation, and that may not be so easy.
At the end of October, 38Degrees (an online campaigning organisation for a host of good causes) launched its Save our Forests petition. By the end of last week, more than 60,000 signatures had been gathered in, a quite phenomenal response for campaigns of this kind. And that’s before ministers have revealed their true colours in terms of a total clearance sale. This is clearly going to be one hell of a battle, as the ‘greenest government ever’ sets out to save a few tens of millions of pounds by way of its own unique response to the UN’s International Year of the Forest in 2011.‘
STEP ONE: A huge petition will force the government to rethink its plans. If we can prove how strongly the public are against this, they will have to back down. Nearly 80,000 people have now signed the petition – please add your voice now. Click here: www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-forests
STEP TWO: Start planning how we can move into action in concert with all the bodies who also want to stop this madness.
Finally: If you think that maybe the Forestry Commission isn’t worth keeping look at this:
‘The Forestry Commission plants about 17m trees every year and has an important programme to restore our native woodlands. The organisation has also created 3000 hectares of new community woodlands in urban areas in the past 10 years.
Access on foot is currently safeguarded for freehold woodlands which the commission sells. However, there is no legal requirement to allow access for cycling or horse riding and there are no access rights on woodlands which are leased.
The commission maintains 24,000km of forest roads, seven times the total amount of motorway in Britain. It looks after thousands kilometres of footpaths and cycle trails too.
The commission employs specialist wildlife rangers and foresters who have restored important wildlife habitats on an unprecedented scale over the past 10 years, making a huge contribution to UK and European biodiversity targets’. From the Guardian. See more.