Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Save the UKs forests

Image from the Woodland Trust

The UK coalition government wants to privatise and sell off the public forest, currently managed by the Forestry Commission. There's no knowing what private companies could do - unsustainable logging, blocking public access (many public rights of way have been lost under private ownership of former Forestry Commission land), destroying wildlife habitats etc. It could also result in 30 million trees being cut down.

Public woods are beneficial not just for the income and products that come from sustainable logging, but also the huge benefits in people getting out in the open, walking, cycling, riding, enjoying nature, getting fit, and valuing wildlife. Private ownership could mean the loss of all these benefits and seems counter to many agendas such as encouraging the nation to be healthier and fitter, and a better appreciation of nature. Forests should be maintained for the nation as a whole (including the wildlife that makes its home there), not for the short-term profit of a minority of companies. Although it may only relate to English woodlands, if it goes ahead then it doesn't rule out it happening in Wales too.

Forests are a priceless carbon storage resource and essential to the Government's efforts to achieve climate change mitigation targets. At 9% the level of forestation in England is one of the lowest in Europe and 69% of forest is already privately-owned.

Read more in The Guardian, or on The Woodland Trust's media pages.

What can I do?
First of all, sign the online petition. It has almost reached the target of half a million names!

You could also write to your MP about this and ask them to vote against it in the Public Bodies bill (find your MP here).

Finally respond to the official UK consultation.

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