For all those who thought that the issue of the Public Forest Estate was dead and buried, on the grounds that the Government had given in to public pressure to stop the sell-off proposals, I’m afraid you were wrong!
Since then, the Independent Panel released an excellent report at the end of last year, to which the Government made a pretty good reply in January. Hopes were high.
Unfortunately, since January, things have been going round and round inside Defra and the Forestry Commission, and there are now very serious concerns that this whole process may not come out in a good place at all.
Can’t quite believe I’m having to write this, but it seems like we really might be needing to gird up our campaigning loins all over again to ensure the Government lives up to the commitments it made in January – which would be a really dreadful outcome to what was looking like quite a helpful process.
Click here for our latest Press Release June 2012
Click here to see a summary of survey results of 38 Degrees members
Click here to see a set of the posters
Click for our Vision document and here for the associated Press Release (published January 2012).
Click here for a blog piece about Trees.
Click here to view my blog piece about the role of environmental NGOs in the proposed sell-off of the Public Forest Estate.
Minutes of Our Forests meetings:
Our Forests is a 'ginger group set up by seven of us, all of whom were closely involved in the various campaigns to force the Coalition Government to withdraw its hugely destructive proposals to sell off the whole of the public forest estate.
Individual members, in alphabetical order, are:
• Hen Anderson (Co-founder 'Save Our Woods', who also runs a smallholding and woodland on Exmoor);
• Richard Daniels (Chair of the grassroots campaigning group Hands off our Forest (HOOF) in the Forest of Dean);
• Dr Gabriel Hemery (chartered forester, co–founder and Chief Executive, the Sylva Foundation);
• Tony Juniper (independent environmental advisor, campaigner, writer and former Director of Friends of the Earth);
• Rod Leslie (former Chief Executive, Forest Enterprise);
• Robin Maynard (environmental campaign consultant);
• Jonathon Porritt (Founder Director Forum for the Future and former Chair of UK Sustainable Development Commission).
We also worked very closely with 38 Degrees which plays such a critical role in the campaign, organising a hugely influential petition to stop the sell-off which was eventually signed up to by more than 600,000 people.
Our Forests went live on June 16th – so do please check out the press release here and accompanying materials below.
Link to Summary of Evidence doc: Our Forests Summary of Evidence.pdf
In July 2011, Our Forests issued some Freedom of Information Requests to the Government, asking for details about the meetings that may or may not have happened between the Government and various NGOs.
This is the press release and attached briefing:
Our Forests has put in a Freedom of Information  request to find out which organisations and/or other bodies have had or are having any discussions with officials as to the possibility of their taking on the ownership and management of any of England’s public woods and forests, as part of the Government’s stalled ‘disposal’ plans for the public forest estate.
Our Forests founding member, Hen Anderson, said,
“Rumours have been rife among grassroots groups and in the on-line campaign community that the Government has been and maybe still is in talks with various conservation bodies – including those sitting on the Independent Forestry Panel - about taking on some of our public woods and forests. There have even been rumours of officials meeting with overseas organisations and companies . Along with hundreds of thousands of people across the country , we simply want to know whether any of those organisations represented on the panel or others have met with officials to discuss taking on any of our woods and forests. If so – when, what was discussed, and what is their present position?’
Our Forests believes it is in the public interest that information about any previous or current discussions – should be out in the open. Not least because a number of the groups rumoured to have been in discussions with Government about taking over ownership and management of some of our public woods and forests are represented on the ‘Independent Panel on Forestry Policy in England. Public trust in the Panel and any recommendations it makes to Government as to the future for our public woods and forests is dependent on its members being open and transparent in their own organisation’s dealings and discussions around the future of the public forest estate. .
As well as putting in the Freedom of Information request, Our Forests has written directly to the chief executives of the conservation bodies which are represented on the Panel, seeking clarification as to whether they considered or are considering taking on the management of any areas of woodland and forest currently falling within the public forest estate managed by the Forestry Commission .
For further information please contact:
Hen Anderson, 07540 897682 or via:
For other Our Forests members also see: