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Forestry sell-off not all bad – Woodland Trust

[Tuesday 16 November 2010]

Britain’s biggest tree planting charity, the Woodland Trust, has re-acted calmly to leaked news that the Government could be planning to sell-off parts of the huge areas of land owned by the Forestry Commission.

The news leaked last week when the environment agency Defra sought enhanced powers in Parliament to consider new ways of managing the commission’s 2.6 million acres and the leak caused widespread criticism in some quarters (see A week in the country)

But the Woodland Trust, which has plans to support volunteers in planting a staggering one billion trees over the next 50 years, issued a statement yesterday (Nov 15) saying that “not all the Commission’s estate need to remain in public ownership.”

But it added the proviso: “However, we have a number of concerns about the consequences of a substantially accelerated disposal programme of public forest land for sites which deliver significant public benefit...

“We are particularly concerned about the future of ancient woodland sites - planted with conifers - which the Commission has committed to restoring to their former glory.

“Ancient woodland is our richest and most fragile habitat, our equivalent of the rainforest. Restoring 20,000 hectares of ancient woodland would be one of the most significant contributions the UK could make to worldwide nature conservation.

"The proposed sell off must not become a barrier to this significant achievement."

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