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Support grows against Forest sell off

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: November 02, 2010

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SUPPORT is growing in the Forest of Dean against rumoured plans to privatise forests across the UK.

Government environment secretary Caroline Spelman wants to sell half the country's Forestry Commission land by 2020, according to information leaked to the media.

Sold-off woodland could be used for commercial logging, or cleared to build golf courses or holiday complexes such as Center Parcs.

The issue has become the hot topic in the Forest of Dean, and more and more people are lending their voice to the campaign against selling off parts of the Forest.

Colin Smith, Chairman of the Friends of the Forest group, said: "In these modern times the value of forests to the well-being of our planet, and hence all its inhabitants, is increasingly understood by everyone except, apparently, our Government.

"Its worship of money and its desire to line the pockets of its favoured friends and supporters quite obviously come before integrity, the environment and the rights of the real owners of the nation's woodlands – the public who pay the salary of all Members of Parliament."

He added: "We call upon all Foresters to unite over this matter.


"Hopefully, each parish and town council in this district will act immediately to oppose the very idea of our ancient natural recreation grounds falling into the hands of those who view this veritable jewel as nothing more than a money-making opportunity to be exploited."

Richard Phelps, Coleford town councillor, said the support against the plans are ever growing in the area.

He said: "A lot of people are talking about it, and I am 100 per cent against it.

"I will support any campaign against the selling off of the land. We need to build on what we have here already and preserve it, not take it away.

"The Forest is such a beautiful place and it is a privilege to be able to enjoy it for free – and that is the way it should be."

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    Lynne Greenfield, Mile End  |  November 27 2010, 10:27PM

    Don't worry - the foresters are "waking up" in their thousands. And I will do my best to rouse some more!. Our forest is not for sale - and never will be!.

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    Nick, Gloucestershire  |  November 09 2010, 12:53PM

    This needs to be looked at calmly and rationally, but there is an opportunity to have decision making about the Forest in Coleford rather than Whitehall. This is an opportunity for Foresters to take a lead in the management of the Forest. This could either be directly via the District Council taking ownership or by a Community Land Trust style model. The scare stories above about Centre Parcs should be taken with a sizable pinch of salt. Remember, planning permission would still be needed for any such changes. If the sell-off happens it does not create a free-for-all. Even if some parts were owned privately, they would simply be held as investments rather than developed. Rather than a one size fits all UK wide forestry management approach, local ownership would allow the Foresters to manage the Forest in the local tradition. Before you criticise the sell off, you should ask yourself whether you want the Government to own the Forest or do you want Foresters to own the Forest?

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    jude forest, FOD  |  November 08 2010, 6:55AM

    Steve McMillan....please can you elaborate on the idea you have. If the idea is good and it will create jobs and money for the district then it might just get the support of the people.

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    Marilyn Bolger, Canada  |  November 05 2010, 10:59AM

    To other foresters, please do not let this happen. You have an amazing asset in theForest of Dean, enjoy it and do not let these money-hungry people take over.

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    Steve McMillan, Blakeney  |  November 04 2010, 11:15PM

    What an opportunity! Wake up Foresters! You can lock this Forest in to the District for ever if we all work together and have the imagination! Stop the hysterics and let us coolly plan to take it over.

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    Forest Jude, FOD  |  November 03 2010, 6:52AM

    The Forest of Dean is indeed a great asset to the people of the District. Is it not time that the asset was put to good use to for the benefit of People....is it possible that some kind of Business Venture could be entered into wherby not only jobs would be created...but an income was obtained in order to maintain such a beautiful asset. I do not believe selling the Forest would benefit the People who live in the district, who would have the money ?

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    gord, fod  |  November 02 2010, 7:28PM

    the way to go is get rid of the forestry commission management in coleford, 20 years ago there was about 200 chainsaw workers working in the forest of dean all contract with 8 fc beat managers,Today there are no more than 20 contractors working in the forest but we still have 8 beat managers this is why the forestry commission have allways run at a loss tax payers money down the drain dare i say DEADWOOD

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    Margaret, Gloucestershire  |  November 02 2010, 5:51PM

    This must not be allowed to happen. Please make your voices heard sign petitions anything This is our Heritage!

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    geraint, gloucester  |  November 02 2010, 4:07PM

    Wake up you Foresters! This is your "family silver", your heritage, and your rights of access at risk here - do you not care if you lose your forest? And does anyone know what Mark Harper feels about it all?