SCARBOROUGH’S forests are facing an uncertain future as a public consultation into their management gets under way.
The consultation is about the future ownership and management of the public forest estate in England – land managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The Scarborough area has thousands of hectares of Forestry Commission land, including Dalby Forest and, closer to Scarborough, Broxa, Harwood Dale, Langdale and Wykeham Forests.
Some campaigners are adamant that a sale would make it more difficult for the public to access woodland and, without the good work and expertise of the Forestry Commission, biodiversity will be threatened and forests threatened.
Adrian Carter, managing director of Pace Cycles in Dalby Forest, said his thoughts are the same as a recent poll which showed that 85 per cent of people quizzed wanted the Forestry Commission kept as it is.
He said: “The Forestry Commission not only manage the forest commercially to gain income and offset costs but, very carefully in my mind, manage that commercial side of the forest very much in sympathy with the recreational use of the forest and also the forest and fauna and the wildlife that live in the forest. I say they strike a great balance.”
One of the major issues for mountain bikers and horse riders is being able to use the land if the Government decides to sell off the 250,000 hectares of forestry it owns in England. Currently, both can use any track and trail on Forestry Commission land.
But Mr Carter believes that could change. He said: “There is no written agreement. The commission allow any track or trail in the forest to be used – in effect the right to roam on bikes. We are not protected by law and I think the risk is great that it will be lost in the future if the forests are sold off.”
However Scarborough’s MP Robert Goodwill says the consultation is needed.
He said: “It is right to consider who is best placed to own and manage our forests and what role there can be for government, communities, charitable trusts and the private sector. This is not an unthinking sell-off, it is an open-minded look at how we can best secure the future of our forest estate.”
Members of the public can take part in the public consultation by emailing email@example.com or go to www.forestry.gov.uk
l Local campaigners against the Government’s plans to sell off the Forestry Commission have taken to the woods to get their message across.
Local Labour Party members staged a protest in Broxa Forest, claiming that the vast majority of the public oppose the sell-off.
One of the protesters, member Jim Brace, said “These forests add considerably to the quality of life in the Scarborough area. We are concerned the plans the Forestry Commission has for the improvement of these forests will be threatened by the Government’s proposal to sell them off.
“In Harwood Dale the commission wants to see a return to native woodlands, in Wykeham they need to preserve the many archaeological remains that characterise the area and in Langdale the commission has further plans for extending natural woodland. All this essential work could be cast aside in the hands of unaccountable and possibly foreign, private owners.”