2nd February 2011
Save Our Forests
I wasn't sure whether to say anything about the protest against the planned sell-off of England's forests. (The rest of the UK seems to have rejected the plans). I don't really consider myself a political animal (i.e. I shamefully usually have my head stuck in the sand) and I'm also reluctant to make these pages too political or worse, "preachy" about any particular ideology. However having seen a lot of the world, for me it's the English Countryside that always comes out on top. I spend many hours cycling through it, which I always feel the better for, and I feel very lucky and privileged to live in such a beautiful country. It should therefore come as no surprise that the protection of the English countryside is important to me.
There's a possibility that the protest is just a knee-jerk anti-government anti-enterprise reaction and that the proposals, to sell off the forests to private enterprise, make sense. And indeed from the television interviews I've seen, they seem to make sense at face-value. Apparently, there are going to be all sorts of stipulations and regulations to preserve both access and the forests themselves. I'll be honest I haven't looked at the proposals in detail but I'm sure they look viable. Also, I'm sure the small-print bears scrutiny. But for me, it makes no odds. It's a question of trust. Private enterprise's primary purpose is to make money, and as the banks (surely the epitome of private enterprise) have magnificently proved recently they will stretch any law so that they can make their quick buck and keep their shareholders happy. They will also subsequently sneer at any moral questioning and finger wagging with a French shrug as if to say, "It's the way of the world". I'm therefore quite sure that when a "forest-owning" enterprise needs to bolster up it's profits, it'll find some loophole, should it need to, in which it can prevent access to what was once "our" forests or worse, build on them.
Far more cogent reasons for signing the petition to save England's forests from being sold off, and made by more knowledgeable people than myself, can be found in the comments on this page.
The petition can be found here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-forests#petition
More background information can be found here: