In the face of many dignitaries' disapproval and 75% of the public opposing it, the coalition government is still planning to sell off publicly owned forest land.
Organisations like the Campaign to Protect Rural England and Save England's Forests (saveenglandsforests.org/) are opposed to this proposed sell off and a letter signed by 100 dignitaries has been published in the Sunday Telegraph calling the sell off 'unconscionable' and 'ill–conceived'.
The dignitaries include Lord Rees, Annie Lennox, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Bill Bryson, Dr Rowan Williams, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Joanna Trollope, Richard Briers and Dame Judi Dench.
This all comes as a bit of a blow to David Cameron's promise to deliver the greenest administration in British history. Especially as 2011 is the International Year of the Forests!
Of the 60,032,000 acres in Britain the Forestry Commission currently owns about 620,000 (1% of the country). The government has already got plans in place to sell 15% of the Forestry Commission holdings for £100 million with a proposal to sell off the other 85%.
The fears of the sell off are that the forests will be destroyed for profit and that the land will no longer be accessible to the people.
The letter from the campaigners says: 'We, who love and use the English forests, believe that such a sale would be misjudged and shortsighted.
It is our national heritage. We are an island nation yet more people escape to the forest than to the seaside.
Our forests nurture countless species of native plants and wildlife. We have relied on them since time immemorial yet we are only a heartbeat in their history. 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.
We, the undersigned, believe it unconscionable that future generations will not be able to enjoy the guarantee of a public forest estate.
The Government should remove the three ill-conceived clauses from the Public Bodies Bill, and suspend any significant sales, until the public has been fully consulted.'