Public urged to help save woods

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CAMPAIGNERS are calling on the community to join in the fight to help save Bourne Wood from being sold off by the Government.

The Friends of Bourne Wood need people to support their plight against the Government’s plans to sell of woodland in England owned by the Forestry Commission.

Secretary of the friends Sarah Roberts wants people to make their voices heard.

She said: “The Government’s public consultation document is 64 pages long, but I would urge as many people as possible to fill out their response to it.

“These are our woods and we need to let them know how we feel about them.”

The group has been monitoring the situation since October when the Government started to look at privatisation.

Last week plans were announced to sell 15 per cent of the commission’s woodland before 2015 and the 10-week consultation on the remaining 85 percent was also launched.

The woods to be sold first have not been identified.

Mrs Roberts said the Friends of Bourne Wood were considering whether they could take on the woodland in partnership with a charitable trust.

She said: “It would be a massive undertaking if we were to do it.”

There are fears access to privatised woodland could be restricted to just two public footpaths.

Ayla Smith, another member of the Friends of Bourne Wood, said the town desperately needed to keep the wood.

She said: “Bourne Wood is like a green lung in this area, badly needed because there’s been so much development.

“It’s essential for wildlife and as a place where our children and their children will have contact with nature.”

The Forestry Commission also owns Fineshade Woods near Duddington, Temple Wood and Callans Lane Woods, both near Kirkby Underwood, Stretton Wood, Osbonall Wood, Clipsham Park Wood and Morkery Wood near Castle Bytham.

A spokesman for Forestry Commission England said: “The list of the sites to be sold from next year will be published within the next two months.

“The criteria by which they’re being selected are on our website, and my guess is that Bourne Wood, which has a high community value and some ancient woodland, would not fit those criteria.”

The 637,000 acres of public forest in England for sale could raise £240-£350m, with it being leased and sold to private companies, heritage forests and community groups.

The Forestry Commission has also announced plans to cut 400 jobs due to budget cuts.

The Woodland Trust is campaigning against the sale of woodland. Visit woodlandtrust.org.uk/protect

To make your views known visit www.forestry.gov.uk/England