Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | February 18, 2011

Save Our Forests Loin Girding Fatigue

Loin girding gets tiring. Equanimity rather than struggling to defend something, is what suits me best. I want to meditate quietly in the forest and not have to keep defending it.

Yesterday like the half a million other people who signed their petition, I got an email from 38 degrees saying: “We’ve saved our forests! The government has just announced that they’re going to scrap the forest sell-off. Together we convinced the government that our forests should be protected for future generations, not sold to the highest bidder.This is our people-powered victory. Next time someone tries to tell any of us that signing petitions or emailing our MPs doesn’t work, we’ll know exactly what to say: “People power does work. Just look at the Save Our Forests campaign”.

It’s fantastic news and 38 degrees did a great job rallying everyone. But a few hours later I got an email from the Woodland Trust saying: “It doesn’t end here…Whilst welcoming Government intentions to abandon plans for disposal of public forests, the campaign to protect and restore England’s ancient forests must go on.
We welcome the opportunity for a more considered approach to the future of our much loved woodlands but our campaign continues. Whilst we welcome the removal of threats to public access, there is still an acute need for better protection of Ancient Woodland, our equivalent of the rainforests, and restoration of ancient woods planted with conifers.
Even if there are no sales of publicly owned forests, the worst of all worlds would be for there to be no change to the loopholes that have allowed 850 ancient woods to be threatened by built development over the past decade. Ministers have made strong commitments over the past few weeks to increase protection for ancient woods, and we will be holding them to these commitments.
As I write, there is a proposal to water down protection for ancient woodland in the planning system. We need your help to defeat this proposal by 28th February.”

A part of me groans that we still need to keep at it to protect the trees. But before we all start ungirding ourselves let’s just add our voices to the Woodland’s Trusts campaign to close the loopholes and stop the watering-down of planning law in relation to woodland. You’ll find details here and a way – whichever country you live in – to send an automated message to Alan Scott, in the Department for Communities and Local Government, who is dealing with the planning consultation. In needs to be done before Feb 28th. And don’t think it won’t make a difference! Remember what has just been achieved precisely through getting our voices heard!

Maybe we still need Jamie Reid’s picture after all – here shown in a new version (graffitied by us) for Goddess lovers:

 


Responses

  1. Since you said from whatever country I clicked through and sent the e-mail. I have found this mouse click activism doable in the midst of writing and meditation and hearth keeping. I appreciate the opportunity to participate. When I visited Cumbria, my first comment was “Where are the trees?” I had past life visions of the place from centuries ago when the woods covered nearly everything. I thought I was in the wrong place until I went to the library to find out when the trees were cut. Then I realized I was simply in the “wrong” time. Blessings!

  2. Life without conflict becomes stagnant and ceases to evolve. Having to defend our forests has been part of human life since the “invention” of farming, and farming also brought us the neccessary cultural changes that allowed the beginnings of Druidry. We are, in a way, fighting back against our ancestors. Needless to say though, we cannot continue in their footsteps, our spirituality has changed, so too must our attitude to the world around us.

    This battle is over, but there is still a war, perhaps this threat to our own native forests will re-ignite our passion for environmental action elsewhere? I can only hope so.

  3. Imogen Radford writes: Brilliant news — subject to seeing the fine print tomorrow – the government has seen sense and scrapped its plans to sell, lease and transfer public forests.

    We will need to see exactly what they come out with tomorrow. But we still need to tackle the public bodies bill and the drastic cuts proposed for the Forestry Commission.

    Public Bodies Bill

    We will need to see exactly which clauses are removed from the public bodies. Deleting 17, 18, 19 will be a start, but also need to look at clause 13 – the forestry commission in Wales. And will forestry commissioners stay in schedule 7, meaning this could happen again any time if the bill goes through? Will the regional advisory committees to the Forestry Commission still be abolished? And will the bill, if passed, and allow ministers to sneak in further assaults on the ownership and management and other arrangements for the Forestry Commission in the future? Not to mention the other environmental bodies scrapped or drastically reformed under the bill and other measures resulting from the spending review? Not to mention a wide range of other public bodies that provide valuable services that are due to be abolished or drastically changed by this bill. Not to mention the constitutional outrage that the bill represents.

    Panel to examine forests?

    We need to see what are the arrangements, terms of reference, members of, arrangements a consultation and many other details about this panel to investigate the future of the forests. We will need to influence its work.

    Properly resourced public forests, publicly owned and managed

    I would hope that we would all agree that we want to see public forests publicly owned and managed by a properly resourced Forestry Commission, and — even better — an expanded public forest estate. Clearly the outcry shows that there is a massive appreciation of our forests and the way they are being run and could be run, and a major consultation in 2009 found that 85% of people wanted the public forests to be expanded.

    Already commentators are talking about looking at the future management of the forests, so the panel will be receiving such representations.

    This government announcement is unlikely to include a reversal of the current proposals by the forestry commission, under instruction from DEFRA, to cut the forestry commission by 25% on average, and 29% in Forest Enterprise which runs the forests. If this cut is made not only will there be job losses in the hundreds, and also job losses in other forestry industries and services, but there will definitely be an impact on the work that the forestry commission can do, the way it can run our forests, the way that it provides access and recreation and biodiversity. We will see the difference. It is likely that the posts to be cut will be in the areas that provide facilities for recreation and access and do the detailed work on habitat and biodiversity.

    It is essential that the forestry commission is properly resourced in order to provide all the public benefits that people have clearly said that we want. So this must be part of any discussion on the forests.

    Keep the fight going for the forests we want for the future

    I don’t think the battle is over by a long way, and therefore I think we should keep the campaigning organisations in place for the time being until we see this matter completely resolved. We can use structures and the enthusiasm to influence the process of looking at the future of our forests.

    A vision for our public forests: an expanded public forest estate, publicly owned and run by a properly resourced Forestry Commission…

    … for people, for jobs, for wildlife, for future generations, for our planet!

    More detailed vision for our forests here http://saveourforests.co.uk/2011/02/17/government-announce-u-turn-on-forest-proposal/

  4. The Woodland Trust’s automated emailer refused to work for me, so I cut and pasted the email text into my own email program, added some ranting, edited my ranting to make me sound like a real live grown-up and not just a crazy person, and hit send.

    Anyone else encountering such technical hitches can email directly: planningframework@communities.gsi.gov.uk


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