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Letter seeks to retain access to forests

Posted 24 January 2011
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Letter seeks to retain access to forests
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Walkers should not be excluded from England's large woodlands, something that is at risk of happening if land owned by the Forestry Commission is sold off, it has been claimed.

A letter signed by a wide range of public figures has claimed government plans to sell off such property could lead to severe consequences for those who like to go walking there.

It stated: "We who know the value of the forests fear that over time, the public's access to them will be limited and their protection, eroded."

The letter said the case of the recently privatised Rigg Wood - which now has no visitor facilities and a locked gate barring access - is an example of what may happen.

Signatories include Council for the Protection of Rural England chairman Bill Bryson, adventurer Ranulph Feinnes, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, actress Dame Judi Dench and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

Other objectors include the Wainwright Society, which warned a sell-off could lead to a reversal of recent forest management policies where a greater arboreal diversity was encouraged, leading to a return to the unattractive blanket conifer plantations of the past.