Monday, 31 January 2011

Press links - Monday 31 Jan 2011

Concerns over government plans to sell public forests

Forests are not for affluent weekenders from the City

Forests sell-off: Caroline Spelman unites opposition from left and right

What is the press saying - Some Weekend news links- January 29 & 30 2011

Hi all

Apologies for the delay in posting these links - hope you will find them useful.  I try and post as many links as I can but this may not contain link to every news article.

Thank you, May, SBF.

Planned sale of Forestry Commission land causes stir

Monty Don: 'Why we must save our woodlands'

Paul Vallely: Stealing the common off the goose?

Friday, 28 January 2011

Private Firms to buy up English forests - The Guardian

Charities and communities will acquire only 3% of woods, Forestry Comission documents reveal.

I cannot find the above article (written by John Vidal- Guardian's Environment Editor) online so here are some highlights from it. The full article can be see in today's copy of The Guardian.

  • The vast majority of England's public woodland will be offered for sale to commercial businesses, the Guardian has learnt from documents suggesteing that only 1% will be acquired by communities and 2% by charities

  • As government plans to sell off English forests at market rates were unveiled yesterday, DEFRA admitted it did not know whether local communities and charities would try to buy them - or even be able to raise the money to do so

  • Officials said they expect about 8% of woodland to be acquireds by "big society" groups. However, Forestry Comission documents seen by the Guardian suggest the proportion will be much lower

  • ...In the biggest change of English land ownership in 80 years, the public will be asked to raise tens of millions of pounds to buy and manage forest or see them go to commercial organisations on 150 year leases

  • Under government plans, new or existing charities will be given 80,000 hectares of England's "heritage" woodlands, such as the Forest of Dean and the New Forest, to run.

  • A further 13,000- 26,000 hectares of other wooded land managed by Forestry Comission will be offered to communities and charities at market rates. If these are not picked up, they will be offered, along with all England's large scale commercial forests, to businesses on the open market

  • The sale of the leases is expected to raise £150m - £250m over 10 years

The Prime Minister's spokesman said:
"We are not going to sell off our heritage forests to the highest bidder, we are not going to remove public access to forests - there will be strict rules in place to prevent that happening."

Friday 28 Jan 2011- What the press is saying - News Links

Here are some news links that may interest you:

Saturday, 22 January 2011

YouGov Poll Result

Huge majority oppose England forest sell-off, poll finds

YouGov poll finds 84% of British public agree that woods and forests should be kept in public ownership for future generations
Click here to read the related Guardian article.

Monday, 17 January 2011


YouGov Panelists were sent out a survey this morning.  One of the question was:

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements:

"Publicly owned forests and woodlands should be kept in public ownership for future generations."

"The Government should sell off publicly owned forests and woodlands so other people, who may run them better, can buy them."

Then the options for replies were one of:

Strongly agree/Tend to agree/Neither agree nor disagree/Tend to disagree/Strongly disagree/Don't know

What do you think? do you think it is a good sign?

Results should appear here.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

No entry: Public barred as forests sold off - THE SUNDAY TIMES

Photo is not from the article. 

There is an interesting piece in today's Sunday Times written by Jonathan Leake and Selina Cuff. Here are some of the highlights from the article:

The government's Forestry Commission has quietly sold off 30,000 acres of English woodland, with many sites snapped up by private owners who have greatly reduced or banned public access.

...Westwood Forest had been quietly sold in February last year to a private timber company which then restricted public access to the legal minimum - which in this case is a single footpath.

in 2009 alone, 51 sites were sold, totalling  2,500 acres, with another 37 woods covering 2,000 acres sold last year.

...woodland sales can see the public effectively excluded by new landowners through the removals of car parks and direction signs, and the introduction of fences, gates, warning notices....

Riggs Wood, near Coniston in the Lake District, was sold last October....once it had been purchased, locals found access to the parking area was blocked and signs were erected warning that the woods were "private property".

Save Britain's Forests, Save Lakeland Forests and Hands Off Forest of Dean are also mentioned in this article.

The full article can be read in The Sunday Times.

Thank you,

Saturday, 15 January 2011


Grassroots input to the government until 31 January on the natural environment (including forests)-- act nowCLICK HERE!!


Are you a writer? Are you an aspiring author?... Either way, this very important issues NEEDS YOU!
Are you in school or have you got a kid in school? perhaps they could write an article and publish it in their school newspaper or as part of a class project!

We need everyone to get involved. The youth also need to be aware of this because it's their future at stake!

If you write as much as you can and publish on blogs, send the articles to newspapers etc then we can get more people aware of it.

Write about why the forests shouldn't be sold? why  do you care? What do you want people to do? Send a copy to your MP.

Please don't forget to send a link to Save Britain's Forests (SBF) 

Thank you!


Thursday, 13 January 2011

For Sale Your Favourite Dog Walks? - By Stephen Jenkinson

Stephen Jenkinson of Access and Countryside Management has written a very interesting article on how the proposed sale of our forests will impact the dog walkers. Below is it text of the article (copied and pasted with Stephen's permission). 

The photos are scans of the magazine. 

For sale: your favourite dog walks?

If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise; your dog walks are under threat.
Recent Government moves towards selling off Forestry Commission (FC) land in England, could mean dog owners being banned from their favourite walks, having to pay a hefty fee to park, or buy a permit to let their dogs off lead. Dog owners in Scotland and Wales could similarly suffer.

At a time when rising unemployment and the need for more healthy lifestyles means that access to the countryside is needed more than ever, the Government wants the freedom to sell off 450,000 acres of England's most loved woodlands, restarting what the previous Conservative government commenced 20 years ago.

The current Government's desire to be able to sell off FC land for "any purpose or unconditionally" was described as "chilling" by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, in the recent House of Lords debate on the Public Bodies Bill. She added: "it is hard to conceive why Ministers want such draconian powers, unless it is the Government's intention to dispose of much or all of the Forestry Commission's land."

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and former board member of the previous government's Countryside Agency said: "We fear that the effect will be the wholesale loss of public access and enjoyment.  There has been no consultation about this, which could have a damaging effect on people's lives.  We hope the Government will rethink these devastating proposals."

10 reasons why your walkies are at risk.

Despite Government claims to the contrary, and the fact that dogs are taken on 48% of all countryside walks, your access to land currently owned by the FC in England is not protected because:

  1.  Current limited access rights to FC land are heavily dependent on goodwill. If a new private landowner wants to use the land for another purpose, like a leisure complex or golf course, the access rights can be terminated.
  2. This already vulnerable right of access is conditional on keeping dogs on a lead everywhere between 1 March and 31st of July each year; the FC generally doesn't enforce this, but new owners are free to do so.
  3. Local councils cannot impose their sometimes draconian Dog Control Orders on FC land. Once it is sold, councils are free to limit the number of dogs people can walk, and impose on-lead restrictions 365 days a year.
  4. Car parking is not protected, so the new owners could make it illegal to drive into the forest or charge you whatever they wished for off-road parking.
  5. Even if FC land is sold to charities, history shows that dog owners are likely to face new restrictions.
  6. There is no requirement on new owners to continue to allow dog sports like sled racing and Cani-X.
  7. Even the most responsible professional dog walker could be banned or forced to pay huge access fees which would then be passed onto pet owners.
  8. When restrictions are needed to protect wildlife, the FC keeps these to a minimum; private landowners need not stick to this principle.
  9. FC rangers are there to help the public have a safe and enjoyable visit rather than promote the forest as a commercial enterprise for private shareholders.
  10. No other private or public sector landowner in living memory has ever provided as much dog-friendly access as the Forestry Commission.

Going, Going, Gone?

Here's what a Government sell-off of FC land could mean for dog-friendly places recently featured in Your Dog.

Coatham Wood - Teesside:  dog owners charged to use the ground-breaking dog activity trail 

Jeskyns Wood - Kent: Off-lead access banned in all areas for 5 months of the year and dog owners charged to use fenced-in training area

Keilder Forest - Northumberland: a decades-long history of husky dog racing and Christmas sled rides banned or made too expensive

Grizedale Forest - Cumbria: dog owners pushed out of the forest and forced to walk their dogs near sheep, increasing conflict with local farmers

Westonbirt Arboretum - Gloucestershire: cut-price annual parking permits for dog owners stopped; forced instead to pay increased fees at each visit or go elsewhere

Pembrey Forest - Carmarthenshire: the local council's proposed ban on walking more than 3 dogs would apply once the land was sold off.

"Impossible" future for sled dogs

A major sell-off of Forestry Commission land could wipe out sled dog racing in the United Kingdom, spelling disaster for thousands of dogs like huskies and Alaskan malamutes, that depend on FC tracks for their daily exercise and mental well-being.

The FC currently gives access for sled dog racing and training where it can, but this is not legally-protected. If the
woodlands are sold off, new owners could ban sled dogs from the outset, or charge such exorbitant fees that only the richest people would be able to compete.

Speaking for the British Siberian Husky Racing Association, regular competitor Caroline Kisko said: "The sport is
heavily dependent on Forestry Commission land. Their cooperation ensures we can keep the dogs fit and healthy by running them in harness 3 or 4 times a week for up to 6 miles. If we lose this access it will be nigh on impossible to find suitable land."

Dog-friendly treaty in doubt

As a public declaration of its commitment to being dog-friendly and imposing the minimum of restrictions, at Crufts in 2005 the Forestry Commission signed a 20 point concordat with the Kennel Club stating that it will, for example:
  • Develop new ways to improve how dogs and their owners use the forest.
  • Introduce positive measures to make dog owners feel welcome, such as water bowls and information points at visitor centres
  • Only seek restrictions on dogs in specific circumstances, such as around children's play areas and at particularly sensitive times or places for wildlife.
Under current government proposals, there is no guarantee any of the Forestry Commission's dog-friendly policies will continue. You can read the full at-risk concordat at:

What you can do?

More than ever, this is the time for dog owners to make their voices heard.  MPs from every part of the UK will have a vote on what happens to FC land in England, so you can make a difference by urging them to:

  • oppose any sell-off of Forestry Commission land
  • if a sell-off  is inevitable, ensure the Government works with the Kennel Club and other access organisations to ensure the real value of public access is protected in every case. 
Readers in Scotland and Wales are also urged to write to their representatives in the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly, as they are up for re-election in 2011 and could attempt a similar sell-off.

You can find out who your MP and other elected representatives are at:

Hello and welcome

Dear all

This is the official blog for 'Save Britain's Forests' movement. Here, we hope to share with you news and updates on the Forest Comission's sale.

Currently, there are over 10 thousand supporters of this cause on Facebook. We hope to use this blog as a way of letting everyone be able to take part in the debate. It gives people not on Facebook a chance to keep up to date with the news on this sale, and what we and other groups are doing to stop this. It will also give YOU the chance to give ideas and tips on how you would like to help.

If you would like to share news links and your stories and experiences please either leave a comment or email us on

Oh by the way, go here and sign the petition (if you haven't already done so!).

I am new to "blogging" so please bear with me!

Best wishes,

Save Britain's Forests (SBF).
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