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Save Our Forests

* The Government is planning to sell over 635,000 acres of woodland

* Once woodland has been sold, the public will no longer have any automatic "right to roam" on the land

* The "right to roam" laws do not include riding

* Selling public woodland will dramatically reduce riders' rights to ride, force more and more riders on to increasingly dangerous roads and even force many riders to stop riding altogether.

Saving our forests is seeing the wood for the trees

See this map - click here.
It will tell you if your local wood or forest is affected.

Says Adam Owen

If you are interested in the future of England?s woodlands please read the documents at the links below.

* New direction for England’s public forest estate
* Consultation

Also see these documents for criteria of disposal.

New direction for England’s public forest estateThe criteria have been selected to dispose of woods that are particularly remote, poor access (for timber haulage), expensive to manage, low timber quality, basic statutory public access (walkers), low grade Ancient Semi Natural Woodland or where conifers offer little return.

Basically woods that are expensive to manage. This means if they go to a charity or private ownership there is little incentive to maintain them as they are very expensive and offer little return. The implications for biodiversity and public access are, in my opinion, startling.

Even with the best intentions woodlands are expensive to manage properly.

Vegetation along pathways will soon encroach and unless one has access to the right machinery or hordes of volunteers, access will rapidly diminish.

If timber value is low then contractors will charge to fell the trees, especially if extraction routes and road access is difficult. The haulage off site alone can make any tree works economically unviable.

Forestry activities you may not consider but are essential to the maintenance of a healthy woodland also include:

  • keeping glades open and mowing rides for species conservation, such as butterflies, moths, song birds, reptiles etc
  • specialised species habitat enhancement.
  • controlling pests such as deer and grey squirrel (no matter how cuddly we think they are they causes extreme damage and only the FC manage their numbers as a national organisation)
  • maintaining ditches and bank sides to maintain water flow and prevent flooding
  • establishing and maintaining ponds (valuable for bats, dragonflies and countless other aquatic bugs and beasties)
  • re-surfacing paths
  • maintaining waymarked trails
  • retaining car parks
  • picking up litter and emptying bins etc
  • wildlife education
  • enabling school visits

All these activities are expensive and will undoubtedly shrink or disappear within a few years of a wood being privatised as the new owners realise just how expensive woodlands are to manage.

The existing grants system only covers about 1/5 of the cost of operations such as tree planting, creating access and providing opportunities for wildlife. There is no suggestion that grants are likely to increase to help new owners.

Whilst the public forest estate is only 18% of England?s woodlands, think about how many other woodlands you can access in England that are none FC or Local Authority. It is highly unlikely that Local Authorities will purchase these woods as many are consolidating their estates too.

The map shows you which woods are potentially available in your area.

The consultation document in lengthy (64 pages). They always are and this does put many people off getting involved. Even if you do not read it and respond directly to the consultation you can register your concerns here.

Many thanks for reading this

Adam Owen
Trees & Countryside Manager
Tel: 01483 444 768 Fax: 01483 444 716

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