UPDATED The government have announced that they are dropping the bulk of their plans for a 100% disposal of the public forest estate. The public consultation has been withdrawn and the clauses in the Public Bodies Bill which would have enabled a full disposal of the PFE will be removed.
The FCTU congratulate and thank union activists, local and national groups and most of all the public on their inspirational campaign to bring about this tremendous result.
The fight is far from over however. The Forestry Commission still faces a 25% budget cut and staff reduction, and the the sale of 15% of the Public Forest Estate is still on the table pending feedback from the independent panel, whom we await further details and terms of reference on.
SR10 cuts will severely compromise the FC's ability to retain a properly resourced forestry estate with protected access and services, and to protect biodiversity, wildlife and the environment. We need the Forestry Commission to be properly resourced to carry on its excellent work in forest management, the environment, for people, for communities, for the economy, and even better, to expand forests and bring them closer to where people live and make them even more accessible than they already are.
Following media coverage on the government's plans to sell-off England's forests, announcements and news on the Public Bodies Bill, the unions that form the FCTU are campaigning to stop the sell-off and oppose the PBB. PCS have launched the Save Our Forests campaign and a petition with over 480,000 signatures against the government's plans is being run by 38 Degrees, who we are in contact with. The FCTU are planning workplace meetings, have drafted template letters that members can use for MPs, are lobbying Lords, MPs, Ministers and other bodies/associations that we can work with.
The FC will celebrate 100 years in 2019 and that should be rightly so. Since 1919 the FC has reacted to the needs and objectives of successive governments and has turned itself from a single focus of trees and yet more tress to providing multiple outcomes from each and every one of its forests and woodland throughout GB. The FC has faced many challenges in its time, non more so than in 1993 when full scale privatisation was threatened, and again in Scotland in 2009 when the Scottish government consulted on leasing some 25% of the public forest in Scotland, both of which the FCTU campaigned successfully to prevent. Today we again face the spectre of disposing all of the Public Forest Estate in England to satisfy the present governments needs for a "Big Society". These threats are completely unnecessary in the eyes of the public and the forthcoming consultation will prove that to be the case. The FCTU will be offering clear alternatives to these plans and will fight to maintain the FC, not just for jobs but for the much greater need of our society today and tomorrow.
Public forests are our nation’s most important natural treasure and we cannot allow them to be sold off to the highest bidder. The land managed by the Forestry Commission represents a living cultural heritage and are our richest wildlife habitat, highly valued by people as places of tranquillity and inspiration. Once they are sold, they are gone forever. We must prove to the government how much we value our forests and how strongly we are opposed to this monstrous plan.
It is important that as many people as possible become involved in helping to protect our forests. Please speak to your colleagues about the plans and ensure that they take an active interest and get involved with the campaign. Getting more people involved is one of the most effective ways to help the campaign.
Click on the image to the right to download a poster for your office >
Please also encourage more people to join a union - there's never been a more important time.
If you are a not a union member, then please join up now - join a union.
Please sign the online petition hosted by 38 Degrees and use every opportunity to encourage your family, friends and colleagues to do so. This link to the petition page is: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/save-our-forests
You can find out more about your local MPs and contact them directly by visiting: www.theyworkforyou.com.
You can also email your MP directly through: www.writetothem.com
Once you have found out who your MP is, you can use the information on either website to contact them either by letter, email or telephone. It shouldn’t matter which method you use.
What you say in your letter is clearly up to you(!), but some general points you may wish to make are:
Clearly, you should always be polite and courteous to your MP, irrespective of how strong your feelings are. MPs also receive a lot of correspondence, so it is best to try and keep your letter as short as possible whilst still making all of the points you wish to cover.
Further guidance is available at: www.writetothem.com/about-qa
Some template letters have been drafted, with a different emphasis on each depending on what you feel most strongly about.