Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Oops I U-turned Again; Forest Sell Off, This Time We Really Mean It

The Government has made another U-turn, this time however, its a U-turn on a U-turn. Do they know what they are doing anymore?

Defra recently announced that the plan to sell off 15% of England's public forest - started under the last government, and which was never subject to consultation but merely postponed - is to go ahead within the span of the spending review.

This means that 40,000 hectares will be sold within the next four years, with no genuine guarantee on the future of England's remaining 218,000 hectares.

The coalition's apparent u-turn on the forestry sale was heralded as a victory of people power, with Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman apologising in the House of Commons, saying "I am sorry, we got this one wrong - but we have listened to people's concerns".

While campaigners were rightly proud that the government seemed to have listened to them, the fight is far from over.

This recent announcement, quietly slipped out, unmasks the 'u-turn' as a mere stunt. The future of our forest is far from secure. People value and enjoy English woodland, which is an important part of our heritage. They want forests to be sustainably managed in the interests of biodiversity and climate protection, and they do not want their right of access to be removed or obstructed.

The Green Party believes that our forests should remain in public ownership. We want to work with the Forestry Commission to improve environmental stewardship of natural spaces, striking the right balance between public education, enjoyment, and preserving forests as a haven for wildlife.

38 degree petition here 537,059 signed so far.

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