This year has been designated International Year of Forests. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests to raise awareness on sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.
Celebrations and awareness raising campaigns are happening across the world and in the blogosphere (including The Tree Year project, which I'm taking part in).
It is ironic and depressing therefore that the UK Government has chosen this year to sell off England's public forests. Only England's forests, forestry is a devolved area so Scotland and Wales forests are not included in the sale (though you can read here of some of the issues that have faced Scottish forests recently). However, everyone in the UK (and beyond) should be concerned about the sell off, different governments borrow each others' ideas, and what happens in England can happen in Scotland and Wales in the future, and we are still one country. In Scotland for example there may well be jobs lost at the Scottish branch of the Forestry Commission if the sales go ahead.
The Scottish land rights activist Andy Wightman wrote in the Observer last weekend with some excellent ideas about the future of forestry in the UK. It would be wonderful to see a future where forests are owned by communities and conservation organisations (and being generous, some people claim that is what the Government wants). However there are two problems with this 1) money, most communities and conservation organisations cannot afford to buy forests on a large enough scale 2) capacity, most conservation organisations and community groups need to make cuts in these financially difficult times and do not have the managerial capacity to take on more forests.
Save Our Woods is a new website, complete with a discussion forum and campaigning advice.
As ever, red text in this post contains hyperlinks that take you to other websites where you can find out more