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Call for more action on forests

Posted 9 July 2012
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Call for more action on forests
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Last week, the government's Forestry Panel delivered a report on the future of public and private forests in England, which was widely welcomed by groups such as the Ramblers. But the acclaim has not been usuful.

Delivering its own verdict, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) has declared that it can only give qualified and partial approval for the proposals contained in the report, arguing uit does not go far enough.

The BMC is approving of the sentiment that forestry is important as a recreational resource as well as for other purposes. It acknowledged that supporting private forest owners - which accounts for 82 per cent of such land in England - is a good move.

It also backs calls in the report for the amount of woodland in England to be increased.

However, the BMC argued that the report falls short in many ways. One of these is the conclusion that while walkers can enjoy the public forests under the provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, it suggests further extensions of this should be permissive and decisions on activities other than walking should be taken locally.

This particular aspect may irk those whose favourite past time involves climbing ropes. It stated: "The BMC is disappointed that the panel hasn't grasped the full recreational importance of the forested estate."

"Climbing and other adventurous recreational activities are not mentioned. It is also the BMC's experience that permissive access can be removed at any time without prior consultation."

And it noted that its submission to the panel had highlighted the large number of climbing crags on private woodland to which there is currently no access, but no mention was made of this in the report.

Last week the chair of the panel, Bishop of Liverpool James Jones, spke of the "untapped potential" of forests to improve well being in recreation, the economy and in battling climate change.  

But it seems that unless more is done, this may remain the case for climbers.ADNFCR-2803-ID-801403684-ADNFCR