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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

"Shameful". That's how Elynor Gilbert describes Defra's Consultation Document

Says Elynor

The word that immediately springs to mind about this 'consultation' is SHAMEFUL. - have DEFRA lost all sense of decency?

This land is forest and woodland which we all cherish but which has also, piecemeal, been surreptitiously sold off for decades. Now greedy eyes turn to the great heritage forests as the most lucrative to dispose of and DEFRA tell us, and naively expect us to believe, that this is "enhancing biodiversity".

In their Consultation Document they twice mention "principles" in their first two paragraphs concerning their rationale for its sale. Are they blinded to the irony of this term? They are selling our land off, for goodness sake, to the highest bidders.

The Forestry Commission has, for nearly a century, conscientiously preserved these enchanting areas for us to use and enjoy, as well as preserve, at a minimum cost to the public purse when compared with the waste of government after government. Whether we ride, walk or bike through our forests, we share the wonder and beauty of these areas.

There is little to choose between a barred forest, waiting to be felled, and a common woodland like Odiham Woods waiting to be 'managed'. One is being sold off to enterpreneurs and the latter has already been appropriated by DEFRA's quango, the euphorically named, Natural England. Both soils will be barred, soon, to those elements NE believes damage the environment: human beings. Land protected by legislation will, eventually, face the same fate: "Closed for........" and then will follow a variety of ecologically sound reasons - but reasons that will remove the intrusion of the public, in whatever small numbers, from the designated area. Odiham is facing this now. They cannot at this juncture easily sell off common land, but once we can be made to accept the sale of forests, it is a small step to accepting that common land should be removed from the public domain and into the obsessive hands of Natural England, whatever it may call itself by then.

Methinks they do protest too much.

Why do they persist in wanting to fence permanently (for the purpose of cattle during summer months only) if not to gain control permanently of an area of treasured amenity land? We do not stamp, in our thousands, over this charming woodland. Individually, we use it for our own purposes of enjoyment, we treasure it and wish to see it well managed. We are not monsters, we do not lay waste wherever we go. neither are we an urban, sanitized version of what a woodland should be according to Natural England and current fashion. We are a natural miracle in this day and age in southern England - a wild woodland.

Listen to us, DEFRA and Natural England. Leave us our bits of pleasant forest and woodland to enjoy free of barriers of every sort. Protect our land as we would wish it done. We are responsible, intelligent human beings not irrepressible hooligans churning up the landscape. Respect our existing laws: equally, Odiham's Scheme of Registration as much as the New Forest's incomparable concepts of a truly natural England through the protection of that great forest's laws.

Do you agree with Elynor ?
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Riders may be shut out in forest sell-off

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