Thetford Forest friends’ warning over woodland review

Thetford Forest campaigners took part in a national celebration of public woodlands and warned that the fight to save forests from a government sell-off was not over.

Members of Friends of Thetford Forest Park were celebrating last month after the coalition government scrapped a controversial consultation on the privatisation of swathes of woodland.

But the group set up a stall at High Lodge visitor centre, near Thetford, yesterday to mark World Forest Day and to warn people that there was still a threat to public-owned forests.

The friends have called on people to keep writing to their local MP after the government formed a panel to look at the future of Britain's public woodlands, which will report back in the autumn.

Anne Mason, chairman of the Friends of Thetford Forest Park, which has more than 1,000 members, said they would be lobbying the panel and inviting them to visit the area.

She added that there were concerns about Forestry Commission job cuts and the future access and maintenance of public woodlands.

'There is still a threat to the public forest estate and the Forestry Commission. There is no guarantee that they [the panel] are going to say that the Forestry Commission should remain as the steward of the forest estate. It delivers so many benefits in terms of public recreation, health and biodiversity,' she said.

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More than half a million people signed a petition against a government sell-off of forestry land and a host of events were organised across the country by the Forest Campaigns' Network yesterday.