As one of the hundreds of thousands of people who signed at least one of the petitions which helped make the Government think again, you will remember the public reaction to the Government's plans to sell off publicly owned forests.
It is almost 2 years to the day since the Government launched a consultation around plans for a mass disposal of the public forest estate in England. Your forests are still waiting to hear their fate. Six months ago, 32 recommendations were made by the independent panel set up after the public consultation was abandoned. The Government promised to respond officially to these recommendations before the end of January – that’s Thursday!
The future of England's forests has been consulted around, u-turned on and debated about for a long time. We are edging ever closer to knowing if the good work of the Independent Panel on Forestry, and everyone like you who has played their part, will be taken seriously. It's so essential now to see some practical action.
What the Government says - and does - about the Panel's final report is a big deal for England's forests, woods and trees. Our Chief Executive, also a former Panel member, has restated our key issues:
And there are concerns about what fate awaits your woods. Our Policy Director's latest blog discusses various external factors which surround the expected response; like the outcome of the Triennial Review, the future of Forest Research - and of course keeping tree health in mind. Are you as apprehensive? Share your thoughts with Hilary on her blog :
Thank you for your support during all this time. I anticipate we will write to you next week with the Woodland Trust's reaction, once we have had time to digest and assess the Government response. Will they rise to the challenge? Will they meet your expectations for the future of woods and trees? Will we need to stand together again to defend our forests?
Two years on, we still all have a stake in this.
PS: See how the months have passed for yourself on our timeline: