Major spending cuts announced by the Forestry Commission earlier this week will have significant effects on Nottinghamshire’s woodlands.
The government has already cut funding of the Forestry Commission by 25% as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Now it has been announced that 250 jobs will go and services will be taken further away from the communities they serve.
In Nottinghamshire, the Forestry Services office at Sherwood Pines is to close with grants to be administrated more centrally. This means that staff will be removed from the area with the danger that they will lose touch with local farmers and landowners. Woodland in private ownership will deteriorate and public access could be lost.
The Forestry Enterprise office at Sherwood survives but becomes responsible for a much larger area stretching from Northamptonshire to Yorkshire and from Cannock Chase to the Lincolnshire coast. Paddy Tipping, from the Save Sherwood Forest Campaign, said; “This Government is supposed to be committed to localism but is now withdrawing local services. With such huge areas to be covered Forestry Commission staff will be out of touch with the communities and environments they serve.”
What’s more, staff numbers are to be reduced in Nottinghamshire. Community Rangers work with local groups enhancing the environment with a special focus on former colliery spoil heaps. Their work has been recognised nationally and internationally. The number of Community Rangers in Nottinghamshire is to be cut from 4 to 2. Paddy commented: “Local people have worked hard to raise the quality of their environment: planting trees, laying hedges and picking up litter. The Forestry Commission is worried that many of these initiatives and groups will simply fold without professional support. This doesn’t help create a ‘Big Society’, it’s a bad move reducing valuable local effort.”
Most importantly, the educational work undertaken by the commission is under review. Staff believe that there will be further announcements later this year which will further reduce the funding for this work. Paddy said: “Last year 40,000 young people visited Sherwood Pines. We need to be encouraging youngsters to get out and value their environment.
“The Government is forcing the Commission to make savings it will eventually regret. Earlier this year, in response to a huge public outcry, the Government backed off from its plans to sell our forests. Instead it set up an independent expert panel to make recommendations about future forestry policy. Their report is expected next spring. Instead of making hasty and ill-informed decisions now, the Government should wait for that report. Forests are forever, Sherwood Forest remains under threat.”
Save Sherwood Forest are hosting a public meeting on 28 June in Nottingham
Download the PDF of this press release: SSF_052011_CutsResponse
This was covered by the Nottingham Post and can be read here