We can’t lose the public forest estate

The Forestry Commission in England wants to hear your opinions on the forests and woods that it owns. 

 Do you live close to a Forestry Commission-owned wood? Do you enjoy visiting well-known sites like Sherwood Forest and the Forest of Dean when on holiday or for days out?

The Forestry Commission (FC) is waiting to hear your views on the long-term role of the forests and woods it owns. We would like to encourage as many of our supporters as possible to respond to this consultation.  Our public forests are a massive asset to us all and are crucial to the protection, restoration and expansion of native woods in the future.

Please add your voice to this very important consultation, and give your backing to the Trust’s input (below).  The deadline for your response is Monday 28th September.

The Commission is the largest single owner of woodland in England and its estate covers 258,000 hectares (600,000 acres)  spread over 1500 woods.  If you live close to one (and there is a good chance that you do) then you are a stakeholder in its future and your input could help to make sure it remains within the public estate.  But even if you are not close to a FC-owned wood yourself, if you believe as we do that forests and woods in public ownership are an important national asset then now is the time to have your say in their future!

The consultation was launched as part of a study into the long term role of the public forest estate in England.  In other words it is looking at what public forests are for.  Surprisingly, this is the first time this has been asked. The Woodland Trust supports the Commission’s objective to make sure that this massive asset delivers public benefits even more effectively than it does now – especially at a time of such massive social, environmental and economic change.

Below are some of our key points which may help you when responding.

The Woodland Trust’s Top 3 points: 

  1. Public forests must focus on providing public benefits. They are no longer solely about producing timber; forests owned by the nation must serve the nation’s needs and respond to change.
  2. Therefore the clear priorities for the public forest estate include helping to mitigate and adapt to climate change, helping meet the water quality objectives of the Water Framework Directive, creating new woods close to people by taking  part in the planning of new communities, enhancing the quality of life for residents of existing communities, and providing recreational facilities with health and educational benefits.  The estate should focus on conserving the very best of woodland biodiversity and wooded landscapes, including the restoration of planted ancient woodland sites (PAWS) and semi-natural open-ground habitats.
  3. We know that this requires money. Some of the Commissions’s forests are remote and provide little public benefit and focus still on timber production. To create funds to invest in delivery of more public benefit at the point  need,  why not transfer those assets permanently or in the medium term to those who specialise in timber production, subject to specific safeguards.

What  you can do to help:

There are 3 ways you can take part in this public consultation.  Please add your own views – and if you agree with us then we will be grateful if you include your support for our points above as well. Depending on how much you know about the Forestry Commission you may have more to add to one than the other, but please do one of the following by 28th September:

1. Complete this simple online questionnaire – or ask for a hard copy from  your local FC office and send it back
2. Write a brief letter to the Commission about how you feel using the key points given above
3. Go online to http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-estatestudy  and download the document – questions 1-11 are relevant to every day users of the public forest estate

Thank you! To keep up to date with the latest news on this and our other campaigns, sign up.

PS: by filling in the brief FC questionnaire you could also be one of 5 winners, who can choose between a pair of tickets for a concert of your choice from the 2010 Live Music programme, or a 12 month season ticket to the Forestry Commission England venue of your choice!

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About Kaye Brennan

Senior Campaigner (Policy & Advocacy) for the Woodland Trust and Administrator, 'Woodland Matters' blog
This entry was posted in Climate Change, Conservation, England, Woodland creation, Woods Under Threat and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to We can’t lose the public forest estate

  1. Kaye Brennan says:

    Michael – sorry; this is the link to the Bill for your interest:
    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/legislation/primary/2008/nia11_08.htm

  2. Kaye says:

    Hi Michael,

    I am sorry to hear that your local woodland is not being looked after as you would wish. As you may already be aware there is a Forestry Bill passing through Stormont. You can help improve the quality of Northern Ireland’s woods by calling on your assembly members to call for native woods to be protected and enhanced. As Northern Ireland has one of the lowest woodland covers in Europe you could also ask for more native woods to be created.

  3. Michael says:

    I live beside a public forest- whr local landowners have illegally snatched land+ dumping takes place- it used to be a nice place but people dnt respect it!! People illegally cut firewood in it+ have destroyed the habitat. Its in Ballinderry/coagh- County Tyrone – Northern Ireland- the state of the environment in Northern Ireland is a joke- no-one cares!!

Sorry, comments are closed as we have moved to a new site: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blogs/woodland-trust/

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