Suffolk: Woodland hopes high after ‘positive’ Government report

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

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

CONSERVATIONISTS have welcomed the Government’s response to recommendations for the future of the country’s woodland.

The Save Sandlings Forests campaign aims to protect public woodland in Dunwich, Tunstall and Rendlesham.

It has reacted to the Government’s response to the July 2012 report by the independent forestry panel – established to make recommendations after plans to sell off public forests were scrapped – which suggested a £22million nationwide investment.

A statement from the group, which is co-ordinated by Imogen Radford and Clive Coles, said there was “a lot of detail to digest” in the Government’s statement, published last week, and a lot more detail to come, but its initial response was a “positive” one.

The statement said: “Forest 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 the Government is engaging those who represented forest users as they work up the detail for the future of our public forests.

“Although the Government has not committed to providing the £22m 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.”

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The statement added: “We are disappointed that the Forestry Commission is 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.”

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