British government throws out plan to sell forests, apologizes

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
February 17, 2011



The British government, headed by Tory Prime Minister David Cameron, has tossed out a controversial proposal to sell off significant sections of its forest to the private sector. The plan came under relentless criticism, including 500,000 people who signed a petition against the proposal, and brought together a wide variety of British notables such as actress Dame Judi Dench, poet Carol Anne Duffy, and the Archbishop of Canterbury to oppose the government's plan.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman was contrite when she appeared in front of members of the British parliament.

"I'm sorry. We got this one wrong, but we have listened to people's concerns," she said, as reported by the Guardian adding that, "if there is one clear message from this experience, it is that people cherish their forests and woodlands and the benefits they bring. My first priority throughout this period of debate has been securing a sustainable future for our woodlands and forests."

Labour leader Ed Miliband hit back: "Virtually every person in the country could see selling off our forests was a foolish and short-sighted policy but they went ahead regardless."

David Babbs, head of 38 Degrees, the campaign group that collected half a million signatures, told Reuters: "Some say signing petitions and emailing (Members of Parliament) never changes anything. But it did this time. This is what people-power looks like, and over half a million of us are feeling very proud."

An independent panel will now investigate the future of the UK government-owned forests. The British government owns about 18% of the UK's woodland. Currently, around 12% of the country is covered in forest.













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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (February 17, 2011).

British government throws out plan to sell forests, apologizes .

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0217-hance_britain_forest.html