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Suffolk: Forest group presses for ‘proper’ funding

11:00 14 January 2013

Clive Coles, of Save Sandlings Forests Group, in Rendlesham Forest

Clive Coles, of Save Sandlings Forests Group, in Rendlesham Forest

WOODLAND campaigners in Suffolk are urging the Government to heed recommendations for investment in public forests.

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The Save Sandlings Forests campaign, which aims to protect public woodland in Dunwich, Tunstall and Rendlesham, has joined calls for “proper funding” in the wake of cuts to Forestry Commission spending.

It comes just weeks ahead of the Government’s response to the July 2012 report by the independent forestry panel – established by the Government to make recommendations after it called off plans to sell off public forests –which suggests a £22m nationwide investment.

Endorsing an open letter from the forest campaigns network to environment ministers and Chancellor George Osborne, the campaign revealed the impact of imposed savings on maintaining the Sandlings territory.

Imogen Radford, co-ordinator of the campaign with Clive Coles, said the Sandlings forest area had already been affected by cuts made under the Government’s last spending review programme in 2010, with half of the staff from the Forestry Commission office at Tangham gone, no Christmas tree sales at Rendlesham because of staff shortages, and a popular trail removed and no longer maintained. She added: “It is not the end of the world but it is indicative of cuts to staff, who work extremely hard in difficult circumstances.

“It is difficult to see how the job can be done to the best of their abilities.

“People’s ability to enjoy the forest is being whittled away and we want the Government to acknowledge the really positive vision of the independent panel and invest the recommended £22m.”

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