Below is a link to a map with the four sites that are threatened locally: Forest of Dean, Symonds Yat, Westonbirt and Mallards Pike. It seems many people hadn't appreciated that local sites other than the Forest of Dean were also threatened so thought I should do a quick blog...
It was also interesting to read The Guardian Environment Blog by John Vidal - he says that Labour are finally taking an interest in plans to sell English forests. Thank goodness. As he notes it is extraordinary their lack of interest in this issue but now we hear some top Labour might visit the Forest of Dean. He writes: "Until last week, barely any MPs – apart from Caroline Lucas – had shown great interest in government plans to sell all English woodland along with nationally owned nature reserves and other natural treasures."
He continues: "Figures I've prised from the commission today show that more than 25% of the English forestry estate is not woodland at all, it is bog or heath. The commission also owns 3,500ha of farmland, stone and gravel quarries, "holiday" and "recreation" land and 580 assorted buildings ranging from the humble to the grand. Will all these go? And if so, how will they be disposed of, and to whom and on what terms? So far there are no answers."
He goes onto discuss concerns about access to the land if sold off. He concludes: "...unless the government conjures some remarkable new legislation in the upcoming bill, it is quite likely that over a period of years, by neglect or by design, thousands of miles of what are now publicly maintained paths and tracks will just disappear."
Green Economics blogger Molly Scott Cato has also blogged on this issue - see her piece here. See also a comment piece in The Guardian this week here.
The four local sites threatened
This link here provides a national map. The four local forests identified for sale (ostenisbly to "the community" are:
Mallards Pike (cirencester-ish-direction)
These lakes were constructed by the Forestry Commission for use by the local people. They are now a popular attraction for visitors far and wide.
Westonbirt, The national Arboretum in Gloucestershire
This is one of the most spectacular tree gardens in the world. an historic collection of over 3000 different trees and shrub species many of which are rare or endangered in their native lands. Covering 600 acres, the arboretum is an inspiring place to relax, get back to nature and indulge your senses.
The Forest of Dean
This is Britain's premier oak forest, covering 35 square miles. The Dean has been important to man for millennia - its trees, principally sessile oak, supplied charcoal to smelt iron already being exploited in the Forest over 2000 years ago. The Dean acquired its status as a royal forest when it was designated as a hunting forest following the Norman conquest in the 11th Century.
Lots to see and do at the internationally famous viewpoint. Nearby cliffs are the nesting place of peregrine falcons that soar above the valley of the River Wye 120m below. It is also the site of an Iron Age hill fort.
See my last blog on Forests here and see my letter to press here. See the excellent campaign see Hands off Our Forest here.