Welcome to the campaign page to Save our Sandlings Forest
The Sandlings Forest (i.e. Dunwich, Tunstall and Rendlesham Forests) is currently managed for the benefit of our nation by the Forestry Commission. The Sandlings Forest is the 17th largest FC managed public estate forest in England.
campaign group was formed as a direct response to the Governments
announcement that they wished to divest themselves of the responsibility
of running the Public Forest Estate. There was a public outcry at
this proposal and on
17th February 2011 Caroline Spelman . the then Secretary of State cancelled the original public
consultation into the future of the Public Forest Estate and removed
references to England’s Forests in the Public Bodies Bill.
public outcry was a key factor in instigating this U-turn.
Secretary of State set up an “independent” panel of experts
to look into the future role of the Forestry Commission. They
July 2012. The Government has now formally responded to the panel's
recommendations on 31st January 2013. The campaign issued the
following statement on 1st February 2013
They reported in July 2012. The Government has now formally responded to the panel's recommendations on 31st January 2013. The campaign issued the following statement on 1st February 2013
welcome the Government's response to the forestry panel’s recommendation
for the future of our forests.
is a lot of detail to digest in the statement, and a
lot more detail to come, but our initial response is positive.
users and those who care about our forests spoke up for them over the past
two years, and the Government has listened. We are pleased that the Government
is engaging those who represented forest users as they work up the detail
for the future of our public forests.
welcome commitments from the Government:
the Government has not committed to providing the £22 million a year we
believe is needed to make sure everyone can enjoy the high standard of
public benefits from our public forests -- access, facilities, education,
and to make sure our forests are protected -- and has not yet committed
funding beyond 2014, we very much welcome the provision of some funding to
give a breathing space in the short term.
are disappointed that the Forestry Commission now seems likely to be split up, but
we believe the Government does understand the need to adequately fund
Forest Research and Forest Services to make sure our forests are protected
from diseases such as ash dieback and how they can be improved into the
future. We believe it is very important that there is a strong
organisation promoting and protecting woods and forests and would not want
to see forestry merged in with other land management bodies in any review
of those organisations.
It is fair to say we have come a long way since the campaign was launched. The Government announcement confirms there has been a complete change of direction ~ they have listened and responded to the public concern.
We have been working with the Government, the Forestry Commission and other Community Group representatives in developing the organisation to run the public forest estate developed from Forest Enterprise (the part of the Forestry Commission which currently runs it so well) - what it will do, how it will be funded and how stakeholders will have a voice.
On 29th January 2014, the Government confirmed the 10 core principles that underpin it's plans on restructuring the Public Forest estate.
Dan Rogerson MP ~ the Under-Secretary of State who is now responsible for Forestry affairs, told the national Forestry stakeholders meeting :
"These principles are that the new PFE management body should:
1. conserve and enhance the
estate for the benefit of people, nature and the economy.
A Bill to enable the establishment of a new Public Body was then drafted and was ready for presentation to Parliament for full public and Parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny. The Government however, for reasons that were never disclosed , declined to include this draft Bill in final Queen's Speech of this Parliament. We therefore may never know if the new proposals would have provided the safeguards we have been seeking which should secure the Public Forest Estate in public ownership for decades to come.
A new Government, once elected, may wish to progress these plans ~ if this is their will, a draft bill is ready for consideration by Parliament. But it is by no means certain that they will agree with a previous Government's proposals. They may also have other plans for legislation which are deemed to have higher priority.
We now face another period of uncertainty. For now the Public Forest Estate remains within the Forestry Commission and,being part of DEFRA , it will continue to receive public funds. The outlook for what Governments might spend on Public services in the future however does not look encouraging ~ we fear there will need to be more austerity measures as the public purse is squeezed once again..
The Sandlings Forest Users Group is a member of the National Forest Campaigns Network (FCN) and we are working with these other campaign groups to coordinate responses as and when there is an appropriate opportunity.
Click here to view the latest press releases that have been issued on behalf of the Network. Visit our Facebook page to keep in touch with developments.
Elsewhere within this site you will find information showing how this public asset can be freely enjoyed. Long may this be the case.
|This site is provided and maintained by the Sandlings Forest Users group ~ an independent body made up of representatives of clubs and organisations who enjoy recreational activities within the Sandlings Forest.|