Below are the campign updates issued by the Friends of Thetford Forest (FoTF) Save Our Forests Campaign during 2011. Click on a heading to expand the section and reveal the update. You can view the latest update here
Although the threat of sale and break up may have receded, the fight for the heart and soul of the Public Forest Estate goes on. Here are the main events in the campaign over the last few weeks.
The Independent Panel on Forestry announced its "Call for Views" which closed on 31st July. FoTF published their response on its campaign web-site and encouraged its members to respond too. Local newspapers ran articles highlighting FoTFs desire to get as many people as possible to take up the Panel's invitation. The web-site experienced a huge number of hits and many people let FoTF know that they had made personal replies to the Panel's questions. Thank you all so much for showing your commitment to your forest!
Following on from FoTFs own submission, the Panel Secretariat contacted FoTF Chair Anne Mason. A positive dialogue ensued, during which Anne was able to reinforce our concerns to the Panel.
A new national pressure group "Our Forests" was launched in June. Made up of highly respected and well known environmental campaigners (Jonathon Porritt, Tony Juniper), industry professionals (Rod Leslie, Dr Gabriel Hemery) and grass roots campaigners, the group aims to promote the ideals of a Public Forest Estate. Its immediate concern is to keep the Independent Panel on Forestry focused and as unbiased as possible.
The contact point is http://saveourwoods.co.uk/category/our-forests
FoTF welcomes the formation of this group. While we trust the Independent Panel on Forestry will make proper deliberations after consulting all user groups, the suspicion remains that the organisations making up the Panel were the same that stood to benefit most from the break up of the PFE and that the larger national conservation and access groups were very, very quiet during the abandoned Public Consultation. "Our Forests" are a credible counterpoint to these organisations. Rod Leslie of "Our Forests" met up with Anne Mason (FoTF Chair) shortly after the groups formation.
The Forestry Commission's National Chair, Pam Warhurst, and Director General, Tim Rollinson both visited Thetford Forest. Tim was shown FoTF's work at Lynford Arboretum and went on to meet Friend's Chair Anne Mason and other stakeholders. Pam also met FoTF and some of its members. Full and frank discussions took place on each occasion with FoTF stating clearly our hopes for the future of the PFE.
What's next? The Panel is due to visit East Anglia in the Autumn. As of yet, FoTF do not know of any details of their visit. If asked to meet the Panel, this will be FoTFs opportunity to put across the strongly held views of our members and reinforce the passion already seen by the Panel on its visits around the country by other forest users. The Autumn is also the moment when the Panel makes its much anticipated interim report.
What can you do? If you are a member of one of the organisations making up the Panel (Woodland Trust, Wildlife Trusts, National Trust, RSPB or the Ramblers) please let them know what you think of your forests. FoTF will continue, at every opportunity, to make the case for a properly funded Public Forest Estate run with the interests of all its many users at heart.
Once again, thank you for your support!