From the TUC

Cuts Watch #349: Celebrities line up to Save Our Forests

23 Jan 2011, by in Cuts Watch

Dozens of famous and influential people have signed a letter to today’s Sunday Telegraph opposing the Public Authorities Bill, which “will authorise the Government to sell the whole of our public forest estate to commercial interests on the open market.” (Available here – scroll down to “Government must not sell our public forest”.)

The signatories include the Archbishop of Canterbury; Carol Ann Duffy, the poet laureate; Tony Juniper, the Special Adviser to the Prince of Wales’ Rainforest Project; Bill Bryson, the President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England; Lloyd Grossman, the Chairman of the Heritage Alliance; Caroline Lucas MP; Ken Livingstone and Roy Hattersley. They argue that

The Government should remove the three ill-conceived clauses from the Public Bodies Bill, and suspend any significant sales, until the public has been fully consulted.
The letter is the latest stage in a growing campaign to defend the National Forest from the government’s cuts. The campaign includes Forestry Commission trade unions, Save our Forests, Save Britain’s Forests, and Save England’s Forests. As we have noted repeatedly, this is a threat that brings together workers in the forests, people who visit the forests, scientists who study the forests and environmentalists who care about what happens to the forests. The breadth of the coalition is shown by the fact that the President of Save England’s Forests is Rachel Johnson, the writer and sister of the Mayor of London.

DEFRA’s position is that “the status quo is not an option.”

2 Responses to Cuts Watch #349: Celebrities line up to Save Our Forests

  1. Tweets that mention Cuts Watch #349: Celebrities line up to Save Our Forests | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC —
    Jan 23rd 2011, 10:01 pm

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  2. Sue Ferns
    Jan 24th 2011, 9:56 am

    The growing opposition to forestry commission privatisation is very welcome.

    It is also important to draw attention to the fact that valuable long-term research would simply not be undertaken by the private sector. For example, Forestry Commission research is at the forefront of maintaining all tree stocks and wood health within the UK. Disparate organizations / companies would not see it as part of their remit to organise and fund the research needed to maintain the UK’s ability to grow our own wood stocks. As Philip Pearson has previously blogged, forests make an important contribution to the UK’s environmental objectives, including by acting as a significant mechanism for sequestration and storage of carbon dioxide. Forestry Commission researchers are investigating the effects of changing forest management strategies and their impact on CO2 mitigation. Again, this work would not be funded by private forest owners Other research addresses the effects of land usage on water tables and water infrastructure. This will contribute to better understanding of how our water usage and supply is likely to change as our climate continues to change.

    Although forests occupy just 9% of the UK land area they contain 25% of areas designated for their wildlife. They are highly important for biodiversity in the UK. Many plant and animal wildlife species need extensive areas of habitat. Breaking up the forest estate so that different management regimes operate across small areas of forest is likely to have a major negative impact on biodiversity.