Saturday July 9 – Whose Forest? Event @ Coleford, Forest Of Dean
the environment |
Tuesday July 05, 2011 16:52 by ian wright
Info: Contact Owen Adams, 01594 541014, firstname.lastname@example.org –
Green guru Jonathon Porritt from Forum For The Future and Shadow
Leader of the House of Lords Baroness Jan Royall of Blaisdon will on
Saturday speak to the public at a free (donations welcome) event in
the Forest of Dean reviewing the campaign against forest sell-offs so
far, where we’re at now and discuss what we need to do to keep our
woods in public ownership for the future.
The results of this event will be submitted to the Independent Panel
on Forestry, to feed into its April 2012 review to the Government.
There will be workshops for all the family to answer the panel’s
questions before its Call For Views deadline of July 31, and a
children’s Make A Mural craft session, which will also be sent to the
For the full programme, see further below, but first an explanation:
SAVING OUR FOREST - THE STORY SO FAR…
We defenders of our public forests have come a long, long way together
– but we still haven’t reached the end of the road.
Hands Off Our Forest started our campaign in early November 2010 to
keep our Forest of Dean publicly owned and managed by the Forestry
Commission – we collected more than 11,000 signatures on a petition,
held a rally in sub-zero temperatures attended by 3,000 people, and
wrote thousands of letters to the environment secretary Caroline
Spelman and our MP (and Cabinet minister) Mark Harper – local
schoolchildren, unprompted by HOOF, wrote 1,000 letters alone.
We made it crystal clear we firmly opposed the transfer of our woods
to private firms or charities. Nationally, almost 600,000 people made
the same stand via 38 Degrees’ petition, and more than a dozen
grassroots campaigns sprang up – including the national Save Our Woods
and Save England’s Forests, and other groups representing individual
forests. We later joined together as the Forest Campaigns’ Network to
present a united national voice.
On February 17, 2011, the Government announced it was scrapping the
proposals, and would not try and change the law via the Public Bodies
Bill to allow it to sell the entire public forest estate in England.
“I’m sorry, we got this one wrong,” Caroline Spelman told Parliament.
It was recently revealed that out of 7,007 responses to the
Government’s public consultation, only seven respondents (0.1%)
expressed their full backing for the privatisation plan.
We would have celebrated a complete victory if Mrs Spelman had assured
us the Government no longer wanted to sell our woods and would ensure
they remained public – but she didn’t. Instead she appointed an
Independent Panel for Forestry to review the future of forestry in
England, both public and private. Campaigners’ pleas for a panel seat
fell on deaf ears. The dozen appointees will report back to the
Government in April 2012.
The panel chose, after receiving a number of invites, to make the
Forest of Dean its first visit. It came in June and 99% of the 200
people it met hammered home our message for public ownership. It is
also giving the public until July 31 (not long!) to answer some
questions which will be part of its review.
However, despite the same message being delivered again and again –
that our Forest belongs to us and must not be viewed as a commodity to
be sold or given away to private companies or charities – the panel
has failed (so far) to officially acknowledge our call. Jonathon
Porritt, HOOF chairman Rich Daniels, Hen Anderson from Save Our Woods,
David Babbs from 38 Degrees and others have now formed a group Our
Forests to monitor the panel, and ensure it listens to the public.
On Saturday July 9, from 11am to 5pm, the Coleford Festival of Words
(in association with HOOF) presents at the Forest of Dean town’s
Baptist Church (in Newland Street) a showcase of HOOF so far, delves
into historical battles, examines land rights issues, and will
culminate in a public discussion on what we do in the future so we can
finally achieve a complete victory!
Programme of events:
COLEFORD FESTIVAL OF WORDS PRESENTS...
In association with Hands Off Our Forest and the Warren James Group
...A chance for all of us to celebrate what we've achieved so far in
the HOOF campaign, to discuss what the future may hold for our
campaign to keep the Forest of Dean in public hands, and managed by
the Forestry Commission, and also to take a look into history and
international land rights struggles. The whole day is free, but we
will be asking for donations for the upstairs afternoon session to
WALK and talk in Bircham Wood (near Whitecliff and Newland). This
50-acre wood about 2 miles from Coleford was recently sold to a
mystery buyer (a settlement trust). However we still have the right to
enter the wood on foot and walk around it under Countryside Rights of
Way legislation. Bring a picnic if you like, as historian SIMON
SANDALL talks about the Skimmington uprisings of the 17th century,
some of which took place nearby.
DOWNSTAIRS in the Baptist Church: There will be an exhibition of HOOF
campaign artefacts, artworks, photos and films in the lobby (we are
still appealing for people to lend homemade banners/ artworks/ letters
etc for the display - please drop them off at Coleford Town Council
office, open until 2pm weekdays or email email@example.com to arrange
In the main room downstairs will be a craft workshop for children and
families - a chance to help make a mural or two about our Forest
and... THIS IS VITAL: there will be a chance to express yourself and
answer questions in any way you want to submit to the Independent
Panel on Forestry. HOOF wants all the 11,000+ people who signed our
petition to have their say, we only have until July 31!
UPSTAIRS in the Baptist Church: For all those lucky to get in, a
chance to relive the Mark Harper public meeting of February 4 by
watching it on the big screen (film by Michael Thomas) - for all the
hundreds of people who didn't, see what happened.
UPSTAIRS in the Baptist Church:
2pm FILM by JOHN FRENCH
2.10pm MUSIC by MAX
2.25pm TALK by DAVE ROLLISON on the Aboriginal land rights struggle in
Australia and how this connects to the battle in the Forest of Dean
2.40pm FILM of January 3 rally by NIAL ANDERSON
2.50pm MUSIC by BOB SMITH
3.05pm TALK by BARONESS JAN ROYALL OF BLAISDON on HOOF: the story so far
3.20pm FILM by WOODY MORRIS
3.35pm TALK by JONATHON PORRITT on future campaigning
3.50pm FILM or PHOTO REEL
4pm PUBLIC DISCUSSION chaired by RICH DANIELS (chair of HOOF),
featuring councillor ANDREW GARDINER, BARONESS JAN ROYALL, JONATHON
PORRITT, and anyone who wants to have their say
5pm-ish MUSIC by DICK BRICE
• The Coleford Festival of Words runs from July 3 to 9, see
www.forestbookshop.com or call 01594 833334 for details
• For more on HOOF see www.handsoffourforest.org, and look up Hands
Off Our Forest on Wikipedia for a chronology of events leading up to
the Government’s February 17 climbdown