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England shelves plans to sell publicly-owned forests


Officials announced they plan to keep woodlands protected into the foreseeable future (file photo courtesy: Paul Duffy)
Officials announced they plan to keep woodlands protected into the foreseeable future (file photo courtesy: Paul Duffy)

Staff writers

February 1, 2013 — Government officials have decided not to pursue plans to sell off England's publicly-owned forests.

A plan to sell off a portion of publicly-owned forests was widely opposed
A plan to sell off a portion of publicly-owned forests was widely opposed

UK government officials will not be pursuing a controversial plan to sell off a portion of England's woodlands to the private sector.

When the initiative was first introduced in 2010, it sparked a public outcry.

More than 500,000 people signed an online petition opposing the plan, prompting the government to establish an independent forestry panel.

Earlier this week, the panel released a report calling for a 5% increase in tree cover over the next 40 years while praising the nation's forests.

"Woodlands sustain livelihoods, support local businesses and contribute to the greening of our national economy," the panel writes.

"Put simply, the planting of trees and woods, their conservation and management are essential elements of our common life."

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson responded to the report by announcing the creation of a public body that will hold the nation's forests in trust.

There are also plans to plump up tree cover, but the government is only committing to a 2% increase.

Few details have been released on the nature of the trust, but officials have indicated that it will be in place for the foreseeable future.

With files from the BBC

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