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Ramblers in East Anglia woods appeal

Posted 23 March 2012
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Ramblers in East Anglia woods appeal
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A walk in the woods is one of life's great pleasures, but it is one that is more accessible in some places than others.

And attention has been focused heavily on this issue in the past year, following the widespread public opposition to the government's plans to sell off Forestry Commission land in England.

This led to the establishment of the Forestry Panel to investigate and decide what the future of England's forests should be and this includes former Ramblers Chief executive Tom Franklin.

Such an inside influence might, one could have imagined, have persuaded the Ramblers that the interests of those who go walking would be assured, but the campaign has been steeped up and one particular area of focus has been the part of the panel's remit that charges it with deciding about access issues in the 82 per cent of English forest that is not owned by the commission.

Next week (March 28th) sees the final visit of the panel to a forest as they go to East Anglia, The Ramblers is concerned that this area is one where access is a big concern, as the flat lands tend to have more restrictions than the mountains and moors that people can now mostly reach without any limitation.

Area access officer for Suffolk Ramblers Richard Tyson commented: "The early signs of a victory for the Public Forest Estate are comforting, but we are eager to see continued commitment in the final report to all those who feel passionately that a walk in the woods is one of life's simple pleasures, with an irreplaceable value."

The importance of access to wooded areas in the east of England may be as important an access issue as that of the Pennine Moors in the last century. Next month marks 80 years since the Great Trespass on Kinder Scout in Derbyshire, widely recognised as a key moment in the battle for public access to the mountains and the eventual creation of national parks.

If the panel delivers on access in the way the Ramblers hopes, those who love to walk in the woods might one day see the 2011 public response to the forest sell-off in the same way.
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