Author Tony Whitbread
The sale of public forests may have been delayed and the consultation on the future of the estate has been closed, but the future of the Forestry Commission is still unsure.
The government is now very aware of the public concern for the nation’s forests and is looking again at forest policy. A panel is being set up to look at the future and the Wildlife Trusts, along with the other major conservation NGOs, are hoping to influence this and push for a positive role for the public forest estate.
This is still very much a live issue.
It would be all too easy to slip back into the programme of cuts and forest sales that has been going on for years.
Local campaign groups are therefore keeping up the pressure by holding events around the country. A local event in Sussex is being held at Friston Forest by the Keep Our Forests Public campaign.
The views of this campaign are not the same as my views or the position of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, but they do show good principled support for the public forest estate and have galvanised public interest perhaps more than us in the conservation NGOs. They deserve our support. I aim to be there and hope others will be able to join in as well.
The plan is to meet on Sunday 20 March in Exceat car park, Friston Forest at 12 noon. This is located off the Litlington Road, near the junction of A259, by the Seven Sisters Country Park Visitor Centre. Map reference: TV518995.
Speakers will include a Forestry Commission trade unionist; Kate Ashbrook (Open Spaces Society) and Dave Bangs (Keep Our Forests Public).
The rally will be followed by a picnic and at 1.30pm there will be a guided forest walk with two stop-and-return points for those who do not want to do the whole ramble. The maximum distance will be six miles. Wear strong walking shoes, bring lunch & refreshments. The campaign group asks people to bring along banners, placards, friends and family.
Two further walks are being planned by the Keep Our Forests Public campaign at St. Leonards Forest, Horsham (Saturday April 9th) and at Abbots Wood, Wilmington (Saturday May 7th)