The UK Government’s apparent U-turn on the slash and burn sell off craziness earlier this year is tremendous testament to the power of online campaigns.
More than 16,000 people signed up on causes.com, 500,000 on 38Degrees, and a number of influential grass roots organisations were founded or consolidated. One of these, Hand Off Our Forests (HOOF), has been able to gain traction with the ongoing Government consultations.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman announced a halt to the sell-off back in February, made a public apology and set up the Independent Panel on Forestry, which lives at DEFRA and is chaired by the Bishop of Liverpool. Since the Panel made its first visit to the Forest of Dean, where HOOF was founded, it has received more than 30,000 views sent in by the general public, and it is hoped that many of these will feature in the Panel’s final report to the government in April 2012. For more details read the update by Ian Standing, secretary of HOOF, and be sure to check out the main HOOF website.
At the same time, the forests are still under threat from the same government’s National Planning Policy Framework. If you scratch beneath the surface of the Government’s various statements it is not hard to find plenty of room for doubt that it will keep its promises of suspending forest sell-off. We might very quickly note in passing that the so-called Environment Secretary voted “very strongly in favour” of war in Iraq and of renewing the Trident nuclear missile system – both, aside from any moral or left-right political spectrum arguments, have and will cost the UK enormous sums of money, of which if a fraction were saved, the Government would not be in the unfortunate position trying to sell off the country’s very own heritage.
And of course the sell-off has not been suspended in Wales or Scotland. See the Forest Commission Scotland and Wales sites. In short, politics is a tricky business with shifting goals, many compartments and a notoriously short memory.
Ergo: The mission continues!
- Hands Off Our Forests and Woodlands! Stop Government Sell Off!
Join via Facebook for bulletins, updates and discussion.
- Hands Off Our Forest
Forest of Dean based activist site.
- Save Our Woods
Site run by Exmoor based activist Hen Anderson.
- Jonathon Porritt
Writer and environmentalist’s forest campaign page
- Green Knights and Wild Things
A short essay in the more focus of this site.