Britain recently cancelled plans to sell 1,000 square miles of its state forests. In response to immense public outcry, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told members of the House of Commons, “I am sorry. We got this one wrong.” She went on, “If there is one clear message from this experience, it is that people cherish their forests and woodlands and the benefits that they bring.”
On February 17, 2011, the U.K. Forestry Commission ended consultation on plans to dispose of its land. Clauses in the public bodies bill that would allow the government to sell off all of England’s forests were dropped and an independent panel including environmentalists was created to improve access and biodiversity in forests.
The estimated $1.1 billion raised through the privatization of 18% of England’s forests would have gone to cut the deficit. Neither maintenance of ecosystem and flood control services, carbon sequestration in living trees, recognition of the forest ecosystem’s role in climate change mitigation nor public access would have been required by any management plan if the sale had transpired.
The current GOP plans to tie the hands of the EPA while privatizing public natural resources and maintaining oil and gas industry subsidies will not help reduce the deficit.
“Trees and people,” read the signs of protesters from Hands off our Forests, “not profit and greed.” Perhaps this will be a lesson to us.
For more information please see the U.K. Guardian’s excellent coverage: http://www.guardian.co.uk
Special thanks to E&E Publishing for their Greenwire article of 2/18/11, Britain kills plan to sell state woodlands, saying ‘we got this one wrong’ (Subscription required)