Forest sale plans


ketch 12 770 50 Turks And Caicos Islands
28 Jan 2011 12:04AM
It is really very interesting to read through some of the apparently well infomed comments to the OP. The fact that both above comments and even on the BBC the statement that 18% of woodland is owned by FC and the rest is in private ownership is openly stated as a fact is remarkable.

So just how much woodland is held by third sector organisations (National Trust, Woodland Trust, English Heritage to grab at three) because according to this assessment its zero!! Charity ownership does guarantee public ownership - OK its a bit by proxy but its our money through donations and membership support to these orgainsations, and that allows them to buy such space.

There is a serious concern voiced by such august bodies as National Trust (not always the photographers best friend I will admit) and Woodland Trust who have presented the following statement to government:

They have reservations about the sale of woodland and forest because they wish to ensure the following:

1.that the conservation and public access value of any site being considered for disposal is properly safeguarded for the future under any new management or ownership arrangements;

2.that if any land is transferred to conservation organisations or community groups, the sites should be adequately funded by government;

3.If such support is not guaranteed, the Trust will argue that important conservation assets should remain in the care of the appropriate public body in order to fulfil the government’s responsibility to protect their public value.

This to me doesn't sound like there are any such gurantees currently in place - and indeed why would there be? They are all expensive and will erode completely any possible financial margin for an organisation or individual considering purchase.

A number of postings above have been really quite reliant on the assumption that public access and value will be maintained - I do not personally believe this to be the case and there are clearly a number of really quite powerful bodies that are equally concerned.

Mr Cairns should certainly stick to what he knows and I suspect he knows that the current regime has already proved to be somewhat less than honest and open in the way it is going about cost cutting and addressing our significant national deficit. Not an easy thing to do but there is quite clearly a political agenda and one that would make the privatisation lobby more than happy. There is of course an urgency to save money and cut costs - but we need to measure what we save against what we lose - quite literally!! Ths is one instance where the savings just don't stack up against potential loss of liberty (right to roam)and access to some very special spaces.

TBH I am astounded that any photographer worth their salt would be prepared to take the risk with such unique bits of rural space and entrust them to 'faceless' landholders looking for some sort of return on their investments - breathtaking.

Cheers

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triumphv8 13 475 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 12:31AM
Well here's another opinion - Fat QUANGO


Quote:• We have a Board of Commissioners with duties and powers prescribed by statute. It consists of a Chair, Pam Warhurst, five non-executive and four executive Commissioners, including its Director General, Tim Rollinson.


Wonder how much they all get paid ?


Quote:• We employ 3,240 people (FTE), almost 70 per cent of whom work in managing the public forests.


So what do the other 1030 or so do ? - Administration or 1 manager to every 3 employees ?

As per Phil's posting - that's 3000 public sector pensions

The government only has the land because of the need to control wood supply during the war - no need for their involvment now - by all means protect it we already have a model for that - the National Parks Authority.
Phil_D 13 81 Scotland
28 Jan 2011 7:39AM

Quote:'faceless' landholders
a great many of whom have demonstrated far greater skill and aptitude than the army of FC staff at managing woodland, enhancing biodiversity and encouraging public access.

The lack of understanding, and the volume of mis-leading information circulating about this subject is what is breathtaking.
JohnParminter 13 1.3k 14 England
28 Jan 2011 8:07AM

Quote:A number of postings above have been really quite reliant on the assumption that public access and value will be maintained - I do not personally believe this to be the case and there are clearly a number of really quite powerful bodies that are equally concerned.


Hello Robert, indeed our concerns differ here. I assume that public access will remain and the value be maintained and am confident of this or at least I have no reason to suspect not at the minute. You have a different view, no problem as our views will be formed from various and different sources and experiences.

Actually I wondered about the 18% figure that the Government proposal was touting and looks like the BBC have used that source as well. Subsequently I have spoken to my best friend who has worked for private forestry organisations, the Forestry Commission and who is now a lecturer in Forestry for university students. He confidently puts the figure at 34% ownership and management by the FC of public woodland.
I'm more inclined to believe his figure, if this is correct then 2/3rds of woodland in England is privately owned already. My belief that change of ownership or lease to the private sector is little concern is formed from actually regularly using woodland now that is privately owned. The ones I use look no different from the FC managed ones, there is plenty of access and appear managed well as a commercial concern, in 30 odd years of tramping around Lake District forest and woods I couldn't tell the difference between a private or FC mangaged/owned one. I have no reason to suggest why the private sector can't own and manage woodland well.

It is true that many forests were owned by 'faceless' pension funds that had no interest themselves in forestry but they were still managed on their behalf by forestry organisations, I'm not aware of huge public outcry during the 60's, 70's or 80's about the management of these faceless privately owned forests. There is evidence that a newer breed of investment groups who have an interest in forestry themselves are chomping at the bit to be allowed to buy or lease forests. I'm told there are more buyers than there is woodland proposed to sell, surely the Gov. can choose the right ones.......Tongue

Maybe the proposed changes won't affect me too much anyway, as I said earlier, the majority of woodlands that I use in my area are privately owned already so there won't be any change anyway and I'm still confident that the change can be done well.

However, I do have to say that it actually may not be done well, afterall, it is the government that is doing it....... Sad
JackAllTog Plus
11 6.1k 58 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 9:53AM
I wonder if forest's is too big a category for this discussion. Do we need to break it down to different categories like Areas of fast growing pine; Pretty old oaks; steep incline land on the edge of lakes etc. Then would new owners be able to plant different trees - change oaks for spruce or even orchards. would replanting be in new patterns. Would tree colletion be en-mass leaving fields of stubble or would individual trees be selected as ready. Is there a logging season, would forests be closed for 3 months of the year?

Would only the good high yeild areas be sold off leaving the less usefull areas actually costing us more to manage?

Why can the Gov not make a profit from these resourses when private industry can see a profit?
How come its a cost to us at the moment but a potential profit to someone else?

Would carbon offets be a part of the equation?
Just Jas Plus
18 26.3k 1 England
28 Jan 2011 10:04AM

Quote: ...injecting a pretty healthy amount...


And where does the return to the investor come from for that "pretty healthy amount"?
JohnParminter 13 1.3k 14 England
28 Jan 2011 10:42AM

Quote:Do we need to break it down to different categories like Areas of fast growing pine; Pretty old oaks; steep incline land on the edge of lakes etc.


Stuart, they vary a lot in diversity but are already brocken down into 4 broad categories for the proposed disposal:

Large Commercial, think of kielder

Small Commercial, think of say 50 acre woods for example

Heritage & Community, Forest of Dean, New Forest etc.

Multi-Purpose, Dalby, Cannock Chase


Quote:Then would new owners be able to plant different trees - change oaks for spruce or even orchards. would replanting be in new patterns. Would tree colletion be en-mass leaving fields of stubble or would individual trees be selected as ready. Is there a logging season, would forests be closed for 3 months of the year?


I don't see this will be any different from how Privately Owned or Forestry Commission woodland/forest is done today. The proposal is for the F-C to continue it's regulatory role. No trees are allowed to be felled unless granted permission by the F-C , except in very small numbers or for disease control etc.

I would expect a different approach to forest management though, they may plant less varieties and more commercial worth timber, they may replant in different patterns, perhaps more economically, they may manage differently to how it was done by F-C, maybe better or worse or the same?

Private companies would still need to apply to local planning authorities to extract timber if access was to be distrupted, you see this all the time now in both types of forest in my area. Signs up at carparks informing that logging operations will take place and the tracks will be closed to public while this happens, planning applications in local papers to create a temporary road to extract from difficult areas etc.

There is a lot of regulation that is applied now to both types of ownership.


Quote:Would only the good high yeild areas be sold off leaving the less usefull areas actually costing us more to manage?


The proposal is for the likes of Kielder to be leased not sold off, would a 150 yr lease to private organisations with strict controls how to manage and access for public sound reasonable or not I wonder? I would tend to think that this model may work quite well for both parties, you may not think so of course.

The less useful areas of which there are may not be leased or sold off, there is mention of this in the proposal. the proposal is for not all woodland to be treated the same and much talk of the mixed model to combat the diversity of the estate.

like I have said, this is my reaction to their proposals and the consultation information. The proposal is hard for me to argue against even though initially I had reservations to the idea.

What will happen in reality may be a different thing but up to now it seems reasonable to me.
CORNISHBOY 11 15 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 5:07PM
The Forrestrey Commision Exels at what thy do,its all a fine Balance of Nature and Timber Production, and they have been intune with everyones Needs and enjoyment. Our Forests mean more to us all than Money,the Government is selling the Nations open Spaces and Must be stopped. go to the 38 Degrees Website and Vote.SadSad
jken 14 1.7k 1 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 5:09PM
Done it.
ketch 12 770 50 Turks And Caicos Islands
28 Jan 2011 6:36PM
Yes so have I (signed the 38 Degree petition).

Just two quick points to make in the face of John's very reasoned and indeed equally reasonable voice above. These spaces are in public ownership held by the Forestry Commission for the benfit of the nation. Not for the benefit of anyone in particular but for all of us. Now that sounds to me like quite a reasonable thing to do and really comes from quite noble and worthy motives.

What is the driving force behind transfering that ownership out of OUR hands? I am not at all clear and it is this complete lack of transparency that I find most worrying (and clearly I am not alone). The economic argument just doesn't make sense (its a little like we are beginiing to see now with the proposed NHS changes - although there I would stand four square behind the need for radical changes).

There is I beleive another agenda here of that I am sure and its one that I for one am deeply suspcious of.

I worked for the National Trust in their public affairs deparment for a number of years and I know they are very very careful about how and where they level their criticism and to whom they lend their support. They will not have made this representation without having done their homework first and if they are concerned then I think we should all be concerned (unless of course somebody has a vested interest in making a purchase in the bargain sell off of our open spaces, woodlands and forests - whatever they may be)

Cheers
losbarbados 10 236 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 7:32PM
I would say the driving force behind the sale is the requirements.
When the wodlands were taken into public ownership there was a need or the government of the day to be in control of timber production, I cant pretend I know the reason behind the need, but there was a need that was met.

There is no longer a need for the government to be in control of timber production, so there is no need for them to retain ownership.

I think the objections are rally because of some romantic notion that the state owning the woodlands is for our benefit, hence the uss that has been kicked up. The forestry commision is a business, and there is no difference between the business that currently owns the woodlands and someone like Stone and Co owning them except with the FC we are financing the work, and in the instance of private ownership it is the shareholders.
lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 7:46PM

Quote:The forestry commission is a business

No its not. Its a government quango that has some commercial operations but also works as a leisure/recreation provider,research, etc,etc


Quote:there is no difference between the business that currently owns the woodlands and someone like Stone and Co owning them

yes there is, one is answerable to parliament, the other to its shareholders.
losbarbados 10 236 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 7:50PM

Quote:

there is no difference between the business that currently owns the woodlands and someone like Stone and Co owning them
yes there is, one is answerable to parliament, the other to its shareholders.



Is that not what I said then?
lobsterboy Plus
16 14.9k 13 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 8:16PM
err No - the focus is completely different. One is setup to provide a service, the other is setup to generate a profit.
tomcat 14 6.4k 15 United Kingdom
28 Jan 2011 8:38PM
After reading through this thread, I can understand both points of viewSmile

However, I can recall a similar debate, when the water companies were privatised.

We won't be able to go here, we won't be able to go there. What will happen to the wildlife that has adapted to our reservoirs etc;?

As it happens, history tell us, that the privatised companies have done marvels for the wildlife on and adjacent to their waters

Adrian

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