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The joint Mildenhall Wareen Lodge & Rex Graham Reserve Open Day is on Sunday May 28th

The next FoTF Conservation Event of is on Sunday 21st May

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Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF) - Save Our Forests Campaign News - 2012 Archive

Below are the campign updates issued by the Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF) Save Our Forests Campaign during 2012. Click on a heading to expand the section and reveal the update. You can view the latest update here

The Independent Panel on Forestry (IPF) advising the Government on Forestry Policy in England published its Final Report on the 4th July 2012

The report calls for England's woods and forests to be re-valued for all the benefits they provide. These include areas for recreation, clean air, clean water, and habitats for wildlife. The report also makes clear that the Panel believes the public forest estate is a national asset, which should remain in public ownership

Following the publication of the report the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that ministers had scrapped plans to sell off the forests

Click here for more details

On the 14th Jun the Friends of Thetford Forest issued a press release regarding the imminent release of the Independent Panel on Forestry Final Report which is to be published on 4th July. Set up in 2011 to advise the government, the Panel has spent a year visiting forests all over the country. Throughout this time, FoTF has campaigned for the Public Forest Estate to be held in perpetuity for the benefit of the nation under the stewardship of the Forestry Commission.

Click here to view the full press release.

On the 27th June 2012 the Forestry Commission issued a press release confirming the latest figures published by Forestry Commission England show FC woodlands are incredibly well protected and sustainable forestry remains strong.

According to records, just 0.4 per cent of trees felled in England were done illegally without a felling licence. Conservation habitats, such as heathland, have been restored from commercial plantations whilst keeping a slowly expanding wooded area overall. A thriving timber industry has increased domestic supply as imports have fallen.

Commenting on the report Simon Hodgson, Forestry Commission England Chief Executive said:

For the first time we have been able to publish a suite of new statistics to show what is happening to woods and forests in England and how Forestry Commission England is performing.
We are already working with the sector to implement recommendations from the Forestry Regulation Task Force and look forward to receiving the Independent Forestry Panel's final report to Government.

Click here to view the full FC press release.

On 8th December the Independent Panel on Forestry advising the Government on Forestry Policy in England published its Interim Report.

The view of Friends of Thetford Forest on the report is one of cautious optimism.

We are encouraged that the Panel:

  • acknowledges that "the Public Forest Estate often sets a gold standard in recreational access"
  • recognises that the PFE is "very good value for money"
  • recognises that the PFE delivers benefits for people, the environment and the economy - the so-called "triple bottom line".
  • accept that ownership of the PFE should be made more secure for the future.
  • believe that forestry policy should be in harmony with the lifetime of trees rather than short term political cycles.
  • As a community group, we welcome the idea of "harnessing the high degree of public interest in its (the PFEs) management and future direction"

However, we do have some concerns:

  • the Panel is "looking at whether the current set up for the Forestry Commission is the right one" - FC has just undergone a massive re-structuring by order of DEFRA. FoTF attempts to halt this re-structuring until the Panel's final report were dismissed.
  • the Panel is exploring "how much habitat restoration and improvement should be taking place on the PFE and where, within the context of the wider landscape". FoTF acknowledges that the PFE delivers 'multi-purpose forestry' and that it needs its commercial timber operations to provide a financially viable future. Any reduction of land for growing trees has an impact on this and conservation organisations must be made aware that a modern working forest provides the structure to support the Panel's vision of a "triple bottom line" - i.e benefits for people, nature and the economy. It should be noted that it was the Forestry Commission who instigated and supported the Breckland Biodiversity Audit and who actively carry out research, with others, into conservation management of the area.

The Panel's full interim report can be found at http://www.defra.gov.uk/forestrypanel/reports/progress-report-december-2011

A huge THANK YOU to you all! The Panel's own report shows that replies from East Anglia were among the highest in number from any region, despite being an area of relatively low population density. This proves your voice is being heard and can make a difference so let's keep doing so!

Members of the Independent Panel on Forestry visited East Anglia on 28th March and FoTF were invited to make a presentation to them.

This gave us a face-to-face opportunity to express our concerns and put forward our hopes and aspirations for a fully-resourced public forest estate under the stewardship of the Forestry Commission.

The Panel's report will be published later this summer so now is the time for all of us to remind the Panel - and the Government - how much we value Thetford Forest and al the other woods and forests of the Public Forest estate and want them to remain under the expert management of the Forestry Commission.

Please support us by emailing the Panel at: forestrypanel@defra.gsi.gov.uk

or in writing:

Secretariat to the Independent Panel on Forestry

DEFRA
Area 3B
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
W1P 3JR

You can also write to your MP asking them to add their voice many forest users who have already contacted the panel. MPs e-mail addresses can be found via:

http://www.parliament.uk

or alternatively in writing:

'Your MP'
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA

Suggested text for emails/letters

Please ensure that the woods and forests of the Public Forest Estate are protected and enhanced now and for future generations. Please confirm the Forestry Commission as the manager of our Public Forest Estate and fully finance it to continue and expand its work across the country, for the benefit of the nation's timber resource, for wildlife, archaeology, climate change mitigation, recreation, health and well-being and as our largest open access areas.
Please help FoTF make sure that our forests always belong to us all.

You can see the FoTF response to the questions from the Independent Panel on Forestry here. You can see the letter sent by FoTF to the chair of the Panel here.