Following publication of the long-awaited report by The Independent Forestry Panel, it now looks certain that the government will halt plans to sell-off state owned forests. Originally the plan was to sell 258,000 hectares of public woodlands, but the backlash (which included criticism from well known figures such as Annie Lennox and Dame Judy Dench), has forced a U-turn.

The independent panel, which was set up in March 2011, received an overwhelming response from individuals and organisations. More than 42,000 individuals and organisation responded to the enquiry with suggestions for the future of British forests, and this was after an online petition of over half a million signatures.

As a result of the panel review, there is to be a rethink of how publicly-owned woodland contribute to the UK’s culture and sustainability strategy. Other recommendations included:

The report’s other recommendations included:

  • Increase the quantity and quality of access to all woodlands, both publicly and privately owned
  • Make sure that every child experiences “woodland-based learning”
  • Ring-fence funding for woodland management and creation
  • Increase England’s woodland cover from 10% to 15% by 2060
  • Create a charter so that forests are held in trust for the nation

The government is due to issue a full response to the report in January 2012. In the meantime, we at TCLM welcome this news and the positive impact on our woodland that must surely follow as a result of this policy debate.