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Action Alert: Stop UK Government's Grand Forest Sell-off, Urge Protection and Restoration for the People's Old Forests

The UK government plans to put half of England's state-owned forests up for sale to private firms to raise billions to reduce the budget deficit and as a give-away to the nascent biomass industry. Ancient woodlands, regenerating natural forests and planted trees all provide important ecosystems and could be chopped down to make way for holiday villages, golf courses and commercial logging. This is theft of the English cultural heritage with woodlands and natural landscapes. Instead the UK government should fully protect many of these woodlands, fund forest ecological restoration and native plantation establishment, and strive in haste to get to 25% forest cover and beyond for their own ecological sustainability.

By, a project of EcoInternet - November 11, 2010

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Additional Background

Across the whole of the UK, the Forestry Commission – the government department "responsible for the protection and expansion of Britain's forests and woodlands" – owns or manages 18 per cent of England's wooded areas, some 814,000 hectares of woodland, half of which could be put up for sale over the coming decade as part of the coalition government's attempts to reduce the deficit and fund biomass energy. The British Isles have been severely denuded, down to 4% in 1919 when the Forest Commission started, and still only at 12% now – compared to Europe’s average of 30%. EI supports local calls for a doubling of UK woodland to 25% of the land base. And we need to stop these forest sell-off plans that could even potentially impact the handful of remaining ancient natural forests like “The Forest of Dean” and “Sherwood Forest”. Indeed any natural vegetation – across UK’s denuded, over-industrialized and over-populated landscape – are national treasures and must be protected and assisted to expand for local, regional and global ecological sustainability.

UK is a ferocious consumer of timber and paper products, importing about 75% of the wood consumed. Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, said the sale of forested land to private developers would represent "an unforgiveable act of environmental vandalism… Rather than asset-stripping our natural heritage, government should be preserving public access to it and fostering its role in combating climate change and enhancing biodiversity.” The entire British Isles are ripe for major woodland restoration by encouraging diverse natural plantings of native broadleaf species, such as larch, oak, willow and ash. There should be little if any monocultures which are particularly susceptible to climate change. Further, the UK government must seek to find ways to designate most of these state-owned forests as "conservation areas" and "carbon sinks" to recognize the fact that their value has diversified and moved away from simply being viewed as timber or biomass farms.

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Ancient English Oak Tree
England's few remaining truly ancient woodlands are full of old decadent trees  (link)

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