Hundreds of thousands of you played a major role in making Government listen back in January and halt its plans to sell off the public forest estate in one fell swoop. Last weekend the opportunity to reiterate those views and share experiences and ideas for your woods closed, with over 40,000 responses made to the ‘call for views’ launched by the Independent Panel on Forestry. For those of you who have been concerned about sale plans and were relieved when the headines stopped, the Panel is essentially the next stage of this debate. But its worth remembering that its remit extends far wider than the public estate – it is to “advise government on a new approach to forestry policy in England, including looking at how woodland cover can be increased and at options for enhancing public benefits from all woodlands and forests”. Panel members have met with the public and professionals and visited several sites, and initial recommendations are due to made to Government in the autumn. It remains to be seen what these will be and what Government will take forward, but the group has shown itself to be open and ready to listen.
We challenged the Panel when it was formed and we will continue to keep a watchful eye on what happens now. We’ll continue to keep you up to date on developments as the Panel communicates the big messages and common points it draws from the public responses it has received.
Last week we submitted our official response to the ‘call for views’. Here’s your copy of our formal submission. We include a series of recommendations for Government around protecting, expanding and restoring England’s woods as well as how to improve public benefit and access on the forest estate. You can also get a snapshot of others people’s ideas for the future of our forests, as shard through our e-form, here.
Thanks again for speaking up for your woods! We really appreciate the support and the time you took.