SWINDON, England, February 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Trust has revealed it will be backing the public's concern over the future of Britain's forests and is insisting that any change of ownership must protect public access to woodlands as well as their amenity, conservation and cultural value.
The Trust has agreed a set of principles which should guide any proposed disposals. These have been sent to Government and the key public bodies involved after consultation with other nature, wildlife and conservation groups.
The charity is hoping to publish its views before the expected launch of the Forestry Commission's consultation on the future of the public forest estate.
The three key principles are; that the conservation and public access value of any site being considered for disposal is properly safeguarded for the future under any new management or ownership arrangements, that if any land is transferred to conservation organisations or community groups, the sites should be adequately funded by government and if such support is not guaranteed, the Trust will argue that important conservation assets should remain in the care of the appropriate public body in order to fulfil the government's responsibility to protect their public value.
The Trust's views, shared by several other charities, have been submitted to the government ahead of the Forestry Commission's consultation. The full statement of the Trust's standpoint can be viewed on the charity's website.
Dame Fiona Reynolds, director-general of the Trust, said: '"The public alarm over these proposals shows just how much people care about the nation's woods and trees. It is imperative that we protect what really matters to local people and that their voice is heard in the debate."
David Riddle, land use director at the National Trust, added: "Any transfer of publicly owned woodland must safeguard its public access and conservation value, including its cultural importance. Unless the government can guarantee this, without reducing the resources already available to conservation organisations, we believe important sites should remain in public care.
"However, if these safeguards can be secured there could be some exciting new opportunities for partnerships involving local communities, charities and business to work together to look after the woodlands they so clearly love.
"We hope that the consultation document will provide much-needed detail on how conservation and access will be safeguarded, and clarify the location, quality and type of woodlands and forests to be disposed of."
About the National Trust:
The National Trust is a charity that looks after nearly 25,000 hectares (61,000 acres) of woodland in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, including 22,457 hectares (55,000 acres) in England alone. Its 250,000 hectares of land include 710 miles of coastline, countryside and upland areas that are rich in wildlife and open to public access.
The National Trust offers many attractions for visitors to take part in including conservation holidays (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-trust/w-volunteering.htm) featuring group accommodation (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-holidays/w-group_accommodation.htm) and many days out ideas (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-daysout.htm) including days out in Cheshire (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-daysout/w-daysout-area/w-daysout-cheshire_buildings/w-daysout-cheshire_countryside.htm) and places to see snowdrops (http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/w-vh/w-visits/w-visits-snowdrops.htm).
The Trust works closely with the Forestry Commission. The Commission currently manages 3,272 hectares of National Trust woodland under lease, while the Trust has acquired land from the Forestry Commission in the past.
(Due to the length of the URLs, it may be necessary to copy and paste the hyperlinks into your Internet browser's URL address field. Remove the space if one exists.)
For further information please contact: Steve Field Assistant Press Officer The National Trust Kemble Drive Swindon SN2 2NA +44(0)1793-81-7740 http://www.nationalturst.org.uk
SOURCE The National Trust