England's forests should be seen as places for those who like to go walking
as much as making money for their owners and the economy, the Independent Panel on Forestry has said.
The group has issued its interim report into the issues it has been charged with investigating and its chair, Bishop of Liverpool the Right Rev James Jones, said access is a central issue.
He stated: "Through the 42,000 responses to our call for views, the public expressed their passion for forests as a place of recreation, to connect with nature and as a vital source of resources."
Another priority identified is to increase the level of managed woodland, a description that currently only applies to half of the 80 per cent of woods and forests lying in private hands.
It also said there should be more woodland and forestry created across the country, while the nation will retain significant benefits from having a publicly-owned forestry estate.
The Ramblers - represented on the panel by its outgoing chief executive Tom Franklin - has said England should follow the Scottish model by allowing unfettered access to all woods and forests, irrespective of ownership.