Please sign petition against selling of forestry commission land

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  • Please sign petition against selling of forestry commission land
  • GW
    Member

    The government is preparing plans to sell off more than half of our national forests to private firms. This could mean ancient woodlands are chopped down and ruined. Woodland wildlife would have to make way for Centre Parcs style holiday villages, golf courses and commercial logging…

    ..and mountainbiking trail centres?

    😉

    druidh
    Member

    Commercial logging????

    In a forest?

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    The trouble with that petition is its overblown with hysterical claims.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    All these petitions are. They try and make everything sound terrible to attract attention, but then when they try and use their results they get blown out of the water for the factual inaccuracies. Bloody waste of time. I signed up anyway though as I’m a mug.

    hels
    Member

    Yes, I quite like a few verifiable facts myself before I will put my name to something. Have to wonder what is in it for them ?

    hora
    Member

    Thanks Labour.

    Farmer_John
    Member

    Of the key claims:

    1. “This could mean ancient woodlands are chopped down and ruined.”

    Ancient woodlands are mostly protected, and are generally too small to warrant cutting down and replanting with faster growing varieties – the commercial return simply isn’t there.

    2. Woodland wildlife would have to make way for Centre Parcs style holiday villages, golf courses and commercial logging.

    I think this is unlikely – many of the forests are too remote and too steep to be used for golf courses or holiday style villages. Additionally, many of the current Forests are already used for “commercial logging”.

    old_mtber
    Member

    They tried this last time.
    The big worry is that forestry and public lands will be sold off to wealthy (Tory) landowners and foreign companies who will then deny access.
    The FC was originally set up for commercial logging!

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    Quite agree old mtber

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    Much as I’m a little worried about what may be coming for the FC that petition is very hysterical. There’s no way the ancient woodlands are going to cut down. I did like the comment though about not losing something we can’t replace, trees after all don’ grow on erm trees…..

    My biggest parochial concern is that the existing bike trails would get trashed or biking would be banned on liability grounds even if general access rights are protected.

    old_mtber
    Member

    Exactly that Stumpyjohn. I absolutely agree.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    If you believed a lot of the stuff spouted on here, you may come to the conclusion that commercial partners couldn’t make any more of a hash of mtb development than the FC anyway……so bring it on. Perhaps.

    b r
    Member

    My biggest parochial concern is that the existing bike trails would get trashed or biking would be banned on liability grounds even if general access rights are protected.

    And if this was the case, then surely we are at much as risk of the FC doing this anyway?

    But aren’t some of the Welsh forests private anyway, and have trail centres – much like Chicksands?

    alex222
    Member

    don’t most foriegn countries have a better opinion of mountain biking then england? if the woods were sold to french or german or austrian companies surely they would use the model that they use over there so it could turn out better for mtb then the current situation.

    hels
    Member

    alex mate – they have mountains and chairlifts in France, Germany and Austria and a winter tourist income. Totally different model, physically and metaphorically.

    If you want to see a successful trail centre on private land head to Drumlanrig Castle.

    Premier Icon nickc
    Subscriber

    The media are being pretty hysterical about it all. FC have been quietly selling off land for ages now.

    foxyrider
    Member

    TBH – MTB’ing aside – if dense pine forrest were removed and replaced by natural woodland or similar (except farm land) the countryside would be a much more diverse habitat. Have you seen what grows under the canopy – NOTHING. I am a keen MTB’r and ride through Forestry Commission land but I do have to wonder what it would be like to cycle through native woodland instead although access is the thing we are talking about right?

    That is saying that the FC land will be bought?

    jamesb
    Member

    its not only FC woodlands that are in line for privatisation; due to DEFRA budget getting big reduction it looks likely that Natl Nature Reserves and some Sites Special Scientific Interest, many of which are owned / maanged by Natural England (sub branch now of DEFRA) may well be handed over to other , voluntary conservation bodies, eg RSPB, Natl Trust, Wildlife Trusts. In itself this may not be a bad thing but Question is where will money come from to pay for their management and restoration? The idea ofbig society` volunteers all very well and good but you do need a budget for paid staff to manage vol activities and provide equipment and materials!
    Probably though of more concern to MTBers will be the potential for deterioration of access via the public Rights way networks, eg bridleways may be overgrown and impassable, gates derelict and obstructed, as LA budgets are severely cut back from access issues.
    Re ancient woodlands chopping down there is plenty of statutory protection for these woodlands via possible SSSI status and teh requirement for felling liceneces (via FC); no reputable purchaser of such sites would go ahead and fell woodlands such as these without prior consultation

    J0N
    Member

    + 1 foxyrider.
    I watched the BBC programme on Scotland forests on Sunday night and while Ian Stewarts Accent annoyed the hell out of me (super-scottish) it showed that intensive forestry using foreign trees does not result in a pleasant landscape.

    Premier Icon Alex
    Subscriber

    A 80 ish acre wood near Hereford was sold by the FC to a private land owner. It had previously been sanctioned/signed for MTB trails and a good number had been built. Steep sided hill so much of it DH based.

    Now all the signs have gone to be replaced by “no cycling” ones. Heard of people being chased out of the woods if they try. So while I agree there is hysteria about what the govt is suggesting, worth noting what can happen with a real example.

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    It varies from region to region, but the FC can be one of the best landowners to work with if you’re a mountain biker. Case in point, a local wood has become the new DH hotspot after the old one got bulldozed, but instead of telling the kids to sling their hook, they’re actually trying to set up an official DH area there. Not sure whether this sort of laissez faire practice will continue if woodlands are sold off to private buyers.

    The Fc did start life as an organisation that just farmed timber, but their remit seems to have changed a lot over the years, and their focus seems to have shifted towards nature conservation and getting visitors in to their woodlands. Another problem on the conservation front is that many woodlands haven’t been comprehensively surveyed. With the reshuffling out of existence of bodies like English Nature, it will be even easier for private buyers to do what they want with land rather than ticking the management and biodiversity boxes.

    jamesb
    Member

    agree Mr agreeable FC main focus does now seem to be far more conservation aware and access focussed, probably some forests make more out of access / recreation than timber (= argument why private owners may do same as much UK softwood is not high quality); not sure though about English Nature (now Natural England) will be shuffled out of existence; UK govt has international / EU conservation and biodiversity targets to reach and they will have to maintain some sort of conservation org to oversee and regulate.

    The FC are disposing of bloacks of forest which are deemed to be not suitable for their core aims and objectives. In reality and to keep thisngs basic what this means is:

    1) Less accessible and / or remote blocks of predominantly commercial mixed conifer species (read NOT native broadleave areas / SSSI etc) which provide little social, amenity and / or environmental benefits will be sold off. These blocks will be still be managed by the private owner in accordance to FC guidelines, certainly in respect of felling and replanting…….Its the law!

    2) Revenue generated from these sales will be directed into land purchase for new planting in and around towns, or more favourable areas where the enviro / social / eco benefits will be higher.

    Classic recent example: FC Dollar Block / Stobo block etc in the Tweed Valley, Scottish Borders. Which were sold last year to private investors. this year FC buy new ground which bolts onto Glentress to create a ‘model forest’.

    http://www.forestry.gov.uk/newsrele.nsf/web-allbysubject/55F1D751C5634368802577920026634A

    Sorry for the typo errors my blood sugar is dropping, must pop out for a sarnie 🙂

    Premier Icon the-muffin-man
    Subscriber

    If certain forests do get bought, as an additional revenue stream won’t it be in private companies interests to attract visitors to their forests?

    same as much UK softwood is not high quality

    ??

    TandemJeremy
    Member

    WhatafackinLiberty – Member

    same as much UK softwood is not high quality

    ??

    Because it is very fast growing due to long daylight hours in summer it is less dense thant eh same tree grown where summer daylight is shorter

    noteeth
    Member

    There might some confusion about commercial forestry versus mixed woodland in that petition, but anything that makes Daily Fail readers sit up & think that the ConDems are selling off our birthright is probably – on balance – a good thing. I’m pretty wary about the potential for both loss of access & developers making hay (metaphorically speaking, of course).

    Premier Icon Mr Agreeable
    Subscriber

    The problem with encouraging MTBing on private land, as I explained on the other thread, is that you have your liability insurer looking over your shoulder and they can pull the plug at any time if they think you’re encouraging an activity which is too dangerous. The FC make that decision for themselves as they don’t have an insurer, and their current attitude seems to be “as long as the risks of something are obvious, we’ll leave it for people to enjoy, and if you sue us we’ll fight it all the way”. There are exceptions (the dropoffs at Cwm Carn) but in general they tolerate challenging riding on many of their more out-of-the-way sites.

    What I see happening is a situation where a load of obscure little FC sites get sold off (the figure they’re bandying about is 50% I believe) but with the difficulties in insuring the more challenging end of MTBing, the sites can’t be turned into freeride parks or DH tracks. That leaves landowners with the prospect of charging people to ride XC trails, and I can guess how popular that will be. Anyone been to Spirthill recently?

    I think it will just take a couple more examples of the type Alex mentions before people realise what this means for MTBing. I will be happy to be corrected.

    WhatafackinLiberty – Member

    same as much UK softwood is not high quality

    ??

    Because it is very fast growing due to long daylight hours in summer it is less dense thant eh same tree grown where summer daylight is shorter

    Fast growing = Sitka spruce which is originally from the West Coast of America / Canada, which likes moist climates. Sitka was chosen for it’s fast growth, cleanliness of timber and durability for sawmilling. Fibre length and colour was also good for pulpwood purposes.

    The UK softwood market has never been so bouyant, whether that is construction grade timber (c16), palletwood, fencing, or small roundwood. Primarily due to current interest rates hence lack of imports (believe me quality is not the reason why there is so many imports, it simply comes down to price and the fact that the UK cannot grow enough timber to satisfy it’s own demand), and the general demand from the processors (sawmillers, panelboard producers and the ever emerging energywood sector) The United Kingdom can produce very, very good quality conifer crops not only for the return to client but for the processors also.

    IMO the ever emerging demand from commercial energywood users and hence product deplacement in the market are by far a greater threat to the UK forests than the risk of a professional forest management company taking control of a state forest…..For which they will do a very fine job of btw 😉

    IanB
    Member

    Because it is very fast growing due to long daylight hours in summer it is less dense thant eh same tree grown where summer daylight is shorter

    Tree provenance (origin of the tree seed) has an important effect on the quality of timber grown in the UK. By and large, UK spruce timber is of good quality and will stress grade to C24 for use in structural applications, just as European or North American timber does.

    Anyhoo, the petition does gloss of many of the facts and drivers for FC disposing of forests. Private sector forestry doesn’t have a particularly good image, clearly, but it is still regulated by the Forestry Commission under their Grants and Licences division. The Foresty Act 1967, the Broadleaved Woodland Act 1984, Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, CRoW Act 2001, The Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010 etc etc all influence what goes on in a forest. On top of that, there the various other incentives for good management such as timber certification and so on.

    Seriously, forestry is a very heavily regulated industry. Peripheral FC woodland disposals should be seen as a good thing IMO. FC no longer consider timber production as their principal objective and such areas are not going to be managed to achieve their maximum potential – good silviculture has many other benefits towards ecology and biodiversity, besides timber construction.

    Premier Icon bigjim
    Subscriber

    That petition just makes you wince doesn’t it, trouble is people will take it all in and believe it.

    I think we’re pretty lucky to have what we have in this country from the Forestry Commission, and yeah how good was that program about Scottish forests at the weekend, top.

    jamesb
    Member

    without meaning to prolong debate about UK softwood quality, whilst some may be very good from what Ive seen in Wales a lot of conifer crops are planted on poor soil sites, on very difficult terrain, often high rainfall and windy. Consequently a lot of teh trees areswept, ie bases are curved >> loss of quality at base of tree, harvesting costs are very high due to site difficulties, and a many plantations have never been thinned to give trees space. Given that yes Im sure that there are some high quality conifers out there but a lot of softwood appears to come from overseas and a UK market of fencing materials, pulpwood and firewood is not a high quality softwood.

    GiantJaunt
    Member

    The petition is laughable. Is the small amount of information provided supposed to persuade us to sign it? I see no links to other sites providing information so I can make up my own mind. I suspect the people writing this petition have done little research also.

    Forestry Commission tend to be seen as a huge landowner unsympathetic to the environment but from what I’ve seen that couldn’t be further from the truth these days. They’ve changed so much. I can’t see them just selling off the woodlands for destruction. Such woodlands are protected anyway (unless your the government wanting to build a new motorway or airport or something like that). Apparently they’ve not even decided what they’re going to do with it all yet.

    A lot of public sector organisations like FC are having to make money at the moment in order to survive. If selling off some of their land helps them continue doing the good work they are then maybe that’s a good thing.

Viewing 35 posts - 1 through 35 (of 35 total)

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