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jethro

Save England's Ancient Forests.

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Plans are afoot to sell off our National Forests to the highest bidder. Some of this woodland includes ancient forests planted hundreds of years ago.

Currently our public forests are managed to balance economic, social and environmental objectives and to provide timber, recreation, access and conservation for the benefit of all and in perpetuity. Although some protections will be maintained through legislation like the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CROW), there will be no guarantee of continued provision for horse-riders, cyclists or dog-walkers, and the high standard of access and accessibility currently maintained will not be required.The former Chair of the Forestry Commission has outlined some of the risks involved in a widespread sale here, while Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times (paywall) has described the chilling effects of previous forest sales on public access and enjoyment.

There are on-line petitions against this proposed sale, please take a moment to read and hopefully sign, every vote counts.

http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/Pages/default.aspx

http://saveenglandsforests.org/whats-the-score-2

http://38degrees.org.uk/pages/save_our_forests_action_centre

http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/8802242.Bellamy_criticises_forestry_sell_off/

http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/features/ecoinfo/8808983.Dame_Judi_Dench_joins_in_fight_to_save_forests/

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Excellent Jethro, I was just about to look for the petitions!

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Tories will eventually run out of things to sell. Any signed the partitions. The best thing it hardly saves any money however you can have riff raff walking around forests can you.

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Thanks for posting this Jethro. I have signed a couple petitions. I just hope it doesn't happen. :(

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What difference does it make in a country that has lost so much anyway?

Personally, I think it makes a big difference.

Too much of our countryside is annexed away as private, yes we have footpaths and bridleways but they're often poorly maintained and very often accompanied by an obstructive farmer - and that's speaking as a farmer's daughter.

The Forestry commission is fantastic at providing access for all, maintaining surfaces suitable for disabled and able bodied people alike. Walkers, dog walkers, cyclists and mountain bikers, to name but few are all able to access this facility - for free. And it's not just outdoorsie types who access these areas, I imagine anyone buying Kielder would think more than twice before allowing a rally to thunder through.

We're not just talking about acres and acres of plantation conifers here, ancient woodland is at threat too, centuries old trees and natural habitats for thousands of animals and insects could be at risk; we have no guarantee that they would be protected and once lost they're gone for good.

Yes, it would raise a bit of money towards the deficit but that has to be offset against the loss of tax revenue this sale would incur - you've only got to live for a couple of years after purchase for your money to be safe from inheritance tax - forestry and land is exempt. I for one am not prepared to stand by and watch our rights to this resource be converted into a tax haven for the few.

As a nation we wonder and moan about the stupidity of felling the Rain Forest, we criticise other nations for their action and here we are heading down the same road. This is our Rain Forest and it belongs to all of us. Please don't let the government play fast and loose with our forest, previous governments have tried and failed to carry out this action, they backed down because of public outrage, we do have a voice if we're all prepared to make ourselves heard.

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I don't see it will make much difference.

As usual with campaigns like this the drawbacks are being exaggerated.

The land would still be open access as it's designated as such under the CROW act.

The rights of way would still be there, the trees aren't going to be removed other than in the normal harvesting sequence.

The vast majority that might be sold will be commercial conifer plantations where few trees are much over 50 years old (hence thread title is itself an exaggeration)

Having said all that I think they are best left as they are too.

But the campaign is making claims which are inaccurate and misleading and that's a dangerous tactic.

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Personally, I think it makes a big difference.

Too much of our countryside is annexed away as private, yes we have footpaths and bridleways but they're often poorly maintained and very often accompanied by an obstructive farmer - and that's speaking as a farmer's daughter.

The Forestry commission is fantastic at providing access for all, maintaining surfaces suitable for disabled and able bodied people alike. Walkers, dog walkers, cyclists and mountain bikers, to name but few are all able to access this facility - for free. And it's not just outdoorsie types who access these areas, I imagine anyone buying Kielder would think more than twice before allowing a rally to thunder through.

We're not just talking about acres and acres of plantation conifers here, ancient woodland is at threat too, centuries old trees and natural habitats for thousands of animals and insects could be at risk; we have no guarantee that they would be protected and once lost they're gone for good.

Yes, it would raise a bit of money towards the deficit but that has to be offset against the loss of tax revenue this sale would incur - you've only got to live for a couple of years after purchase for your money to be safe from inheritance tax - forestry and land is exempt. I for one am not prepared to stand by and watch our rights to this resource be converted into a tax haven for the few.

As a nation we wonder and moan about the stupidity of felling the Rain Forest, we criticise other nations for their action and here we are heading down the same road. This is our Rain Forest and it belongs to all of us. Please don't let the government play fast and loose with our forest, previous governments have tried and failed to carry out this action, they backed down because of public outrage, we do have a voice if we're all prepared to make ourselves heard.

I couldnt agree more, super short termism is not the way to go and it would be a criminal shame to allow more land to slip from 'public' ownership.

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I don't see it will make much difference.

As usual with campaigns like this the drawbacks are being exaggerated.

The land would still be open access as it's designated as such under the CROW act.

The rights of way would still be there, the trees aren't going to be removed other than in the normal harvesting sequence.

The vast majority that might be sold will be commercial conifer plantations where few trees are much over 50 years old (hence thread title is itself an exaggeration)

Having said all that I think they are best left as they are too.

But the campaign is making claims which are inaccurate and misleading and that's a dangerous tactic.

At first that's how it will be, then access will be slowly removed then the land sold for development.

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It won't be sold for development around here (for example) because it's also in a National Park - so planning is strictly enforced.

The forest areas are generally former moorland not suited for 'development' beyond perhaps seasonal tourist related facilities.

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Private companies are notorious for providing "minimum service for maximum profit" in this kind of situations- I doubt that the more extreme claims will come to fruition but it's quite feasible that many of them may fall into a poor state of maintenance.

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It's not some of it, it's ALL of it.

Why would a private individual or commercial enterprise want to buy a forest (or part of one) if there is no kind of profit involved? I can hear the cries now 'get orf moi land' or 'Amex? That'll do nicely.'

Golf cources, holiday Parcs, car parks, asset stripping, neglect or simply access denial? All of this will come to pass and the the Tories will score a voting coup for the rich few who will sieze the opportunity to avoid inheritance tax.

I'm sure the likes of TesSainMorDa are rubbing their grubby little corporate hands at the prospects of expanding into new profit centers. Can you imagine what a Tesco Parcs would be like?

The land belongs to us - the people of Little Britain.

My apologies for re-arranging a line from a poem by Rupert Brooke:

There's some corner of an English forest

T
hat is forever foreign.

The prospect is it won't be just a corner.

ffO.

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Hear, hear. I don't have the link handy bu the Indie had a pretty good article about it, mentionning the example of one woodland area in the Lakes that had been sold recently. Before, there was a visitor centre, a network of maintained path, easy access for everybody. After, everything has been shut, there is now a padlocked gate blocking the main access track. As mentionned, the right of way still exist but that wood is now effectively out of bounds for many people. I'm a fit hiker, clambering over a fence is not an issue for me but not everybody can and want to do that, woodlands ramblings are mainly the preserve of people that don't want to make things hard for themselves, they will be pushed away.

I doubt many problems will arise if the forest are sold to the National Trust or any other organisations that is dedicated to conservation of the land but there are many ways for a private owner to discourage people out of his/her land whilst sticking to Access Law, in the hand, those woods will simply become out of bounds for all but those who enjoy a bit of a challenge. The tracks will become rougher and rougher, gates/fences will be erected without any access point (and Lord knows a simple style is not much of an expense).

When important efforts should be made to help the population to do some basic physical activity to combat ever growing obesity issues, this is one step ensuring there will be less available for them to do...

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There are on-line petitions against this proposed sale, please take a moment to read and hopefully sign, every vote counts.

Done! :D

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Seems the petitions to save the 'ancient' bits of woodland were as ever a little premature.

Consultation starts with Govt saying that ancient woodland will not be sold to commercial ventures.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12287175

As for preserving the bast conifer plantations, what would be the point? They are grown to be chopped down.

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Seems the petitions to save the 'ancient' bits of woodland were as ever a little premature.

Consultation starts with Govt saying that ancient woodland will not be sold to commercial ventures.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-12287175

As for preserving the bast conifer plantations, what would be the point? They are grown to be chopped down.

The devil is in the detail. What exactly will be covered by the 'ancient woodland' promise? More to the point what will be omitted and therefore fall under the category of commercial asset to be exploited? Who will decide what is and what is not ancient woodland?

The consultation paper is a questionaire but how many people will actually take the time to return it? It will not be representative of the population only of those who answered and returned it and the government knows this full well and are exploiting that advantage.

The questions don't ask why people disagree, but are phrased in such a way that makes it impossible to disagree. That makes me highly suspicious because it's searching for the correct answer to their objective. i.e. sell off the forests.

And why on earth would we still trust a government that has lied so fundamentally about promises made and continually broken?

No it's not premature.

ffO.

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Promised to cut the deficit, cutting the deficit.

Fact is the cuts HAVE to be made, take a look at Club Med if you want to see what would of happened if Labour had won last year. Some people seem to think they can have their cake and eat it, but not this year, and probably not til 2013/14.

Sooner people accept that the easier the better. If anything this is one of the fairer cuts, as it affects everyone.

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I expected that stance to crop up as soon as it was inevitable that cuts would have to be made, and predictably, I've developed a stronger and stronger dislike of it as time has gone on.

"We have to make cuts" is only half of the story, the other half of it is that we need to try to make them in ways that are efficient (i.e. the cuts don't result in government revenue losses from elsewhere which offset the revenue gained from the cuts) and that cause a minimum of negative side-effects. It can be expressed as a cost-benefit analysis, the cost is the negative side-effects and the benefit is the reduction in government spending and/or increase in government revenues.

If the government goes for the easy targets with its cuts, resulting in a worse result cost-benefit wise than is necessary, the correct attitude to take certainly isn't "that's life" as is often suggested. It's not just about the axe falling but where it falls and why.

Thing is, I think there is a feasible way for the government to make some cuts here without creating too many problems (keeping control of the most important forests, and when selling forested areas, selling them off to trusts and other environment/preservation-related organisations). But given their track record of doing what is easiest and simplest, rather than necessarily best, with the nature and emphasis of the cuts, I don't trust them to do it in a particularly optimal way.

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I'm going to guess that someone or many in the treasury have done the cost-benefit analysis and come to the conclusion that getting rid of them is the best way forward. Besides, as we know, if you want something run well, don't let the Government do it. Any Government. (case in point, Royal Mail)

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Promised to cut the deficit, cutting the deficit.

Fact is the cuts HAVE to be made, take a look at Club Med if you want to see what would of happened if Labour had won last year. Some people seem to think they can have their cake and eat it, but not this year, and probably not til 2013/14.

Sooner people accept that the easier the better. If anything this is one of the fairer cuts, as it affects everyone.

Except it isn't going to make a huge saving. Anyway the government is back peddling a little and now say they're going to be sold off to charities. Where the charities are going to get the money is another question. Also if they do go the private route and the private landlords start restricting access (not straight away of course or possibly by neglect) it will also be bad for local villages who depend on the tourist trade these places bring.

I suspect in reality it's an easy option to raise some quick cash. The Tories just see the option to privatise everything as the number one priority. Sadly the same old Tories. We don't really want to head back to days where everything is in the countryside is owned by private landlords.

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I'm going to guess that someone or many in the treasury have done the cost-benefit analysis and come to the conclusion that getting rid of them is the best way forward.

I think you are probably right with that one, but of course that says nothing about how thorough or non-biased the cost-benefit analysis was. Policymaking is littered with examples of cost-benefit analysis that ignores numerous important factors (it wouldn't surprise me if preserving forests was seen as "non-essential" and thus largely ignored as an issue, for instance). Another one is arriving at a conclusion and performing a heavily biased cost-benefit analysis riddled with confirmation bias in order to support the conclusion. We see this sort of thing all too often among the general public, and I've even been informed that government depts tend to avoid discussing issues at length due to the bureaucratic obstacles that arise, so I see no reason why the government should be any different.

Besides, as we know, if you want something run well, don't let the Government do it. Any Government. (case in point, Royal Mail)

I don't think it worked that way with public transport, just to quote one example, which since its privatisation has been run via the "minimum service for maximum profit" philosophy. Some things are best privatised and others aren't.

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The devil is in the detail. What exactly will be covered by the 'ancient woodland' promise? More to the point what will be omitted and therefore fall under the category of commercial asset to be exploited? Who will decide what is and what is not ancient woodland?

Whilst I'm not in favour of these proposals, Ancient Woodlands are defined by English Nature and it is nigh on impossible to do anything within them, and very onerous to develop even near them.

I think a few are underestimating the potential for recreation to create the revenue that would be attractive to private owners, but I'd still be uneasy about them being taken from the Forestry Commission.

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Promised to cut the deficit, cutting the deficit.

Fact is the cuts HAVE to be made, take a look at Club Med if you want to see what would of happened if Labour had won last year. Some people seem to think they can have their cake and eat it, but not this year, and probably not til 2013/14.

Sooner people accept that the easier the better. If anything this is one of the fairer cuts, as it affects everyone.

Please spare me the patronising.

I vehemently disagree that it fairly affects everyone. The land will pass to the few individuals and corporations who can afford private ownership. £10m/yr is a trivial sum when the NHS wastes that every day on paying out for litigation cases. Let's not forget the bankers who got us into this mess are the ones who will snap up the land to offset inheritance taxation, bought using the fat bonuses (earned by duping the taxpayer into subsidising their busineses) for their retirement funds now squirelled away in off-shore tax havens.

It's nothing to do with swallowing the medicine and everything to do with having to pay for it as well - the folly of others who are seemingly beyond accountability.

They are the ones, not Joe Bloggs, who are having their cake and eating it.

ffO

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The sell-off of woodlands has precious little to do with sound economics, all to do with ideology and some fallacious notion that "We're all in this together" whilst action to actually give some meat to that vacuous sound bite remain thin on the ground (see rich tax evaders). The mantra that selling off national assets because the private sector would run them better has shuddered to a grinding halt at the nearest train station...

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I'd suggest that has more to do with the licences and length of them than anything else. Would you invest millions into something you might not control in 10 years time? I doubt it.

As for the mess, I'd posit that it was a case of 1. people seeming devoid of taking responsibility for their own actions, 2. the banks for lending the money and 3. Labour for spending spending spending. To just blame the banks is wrong, and frankly old news.

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