U.K Woodland Sell Off Planned

In an attempt save money and cut the deficit, Ministers are planning a massive sell off of Britain’s Government owned forests. Over 43,000 people have signed a petition against it, so far.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have announced that there will be changes in legislation which will mean half of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission will be disposed of. The decision will force walkers and endangered animals to make way for Center Parcs-style holiday villages, logging companies and golf courses.

If the plans are to go ahead, between 150, 000 and 350, 000 hectares of forest and other state owned land would be sold within the next three years, in one of the biggest land sales in British history. The plan, designed to help cut the budget deficit, has been met by opposition by many of the country’s highest profile environmental campaign groups. The organisation ‘38 Degrees’ have launched a petition against the move, and over 43, 000 people have signed it so far. More people need to sign it to give the petition real weight and make MPs think twice about voting for the move. One campaign supporter wrote “Britain has always been sensible about protecting its national heritage [and] it would be a shame to see such precious forests destroyed. Once a hundred year old tree is cut down it is gone. No holiday park or golf course can compare.”

One hope of protecting the forests, should the plans go ahead, lies with the hopes that they will be bought by private benefactors such as the publisher Felix Dennis, who owns a number of woodland sites including “The Forest of Dennis”. Dennis planted the site in Warwickshire, which is currently the world’s largest privately planted forest. However, it is unlikely that such a large amount of land will be taken on by private benefactors alone, and there are fears that the forests would suffer from a lower level of care once privatised.

Paul Hetherington, spokesman for the Woodland Trust commented “This sale is likely raise a tiny amount but could do immeasurable damage and cost the nation dearly. This land will not be sold for anything like its real environmental and social value. There is no way the private sector is going to provide the same level of care [as the commission]”.

If you would like to sign the petition please visit this link

Related Links

Environmental Campaigns

Woodland Burial Sites