“…the first tranche of the forests, if they sell them off, is going to raise a hundred million pounds; that is exactly the amount of money that Defra and the brilliant Caroline Spelman, who is the Secretary of State in charge, gave to an international fund devoted to prevent deforestation.”
Apparently true. From a Defra press release of 27 October 2010:
“The Government has today committed £100 million to international forestry projects which provide specific benefits for biodiversity. The money comes from the new international climate finance included in the Comprehensive Spending Review, which will include new money for the UK’s contribution to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), a programme which aims to prevent the loss of forests in developing countries.”
Another Defra press release, 27 January 2011:
“The Government has already committed to taking 15% of the public forest estate out of state control over the course of this parliament, generating up to £100million of receipts.”
Am I missing something?
Selling off boring old British forests to pay for fancier, more high-profile ones in more glamourous climes? Or… possibly selling off relatively inefficient CO2 capture engines in Britain to finance the continued operation of more efficient ones elsewhere? Left hand keeps just missing the right hand as they flounce independantly about in the corridors of power? Hmm… So many possibilities.
Perhaps, except – in this case – the left hand and right hand are both headed by the same minister, Caroline Spelman.
Sent to my local MP, John Hayes.
I am writing to you with regard to the current proposals to sell
publicly own forests to a mixture of commercial operations, charities
As a great user of Forestry Commission land (Bourne Woods and
Rockingham Forest), I am particularly concerned about this issue.
My understanding is that the first tranche of Forestry Commission
woodlands, representing 15% of the total holdings, can be sold off
without consultation or further legistlation. The sale is expected to
bring in 100 million pounds.
By coincedence, this is the same amount that the government has
committed “to international forestry projects which provide specific
benefits for biodiversity.”
Quoting Caroline Spelman’s press release of 27 October 2010:
“The money comes from the new international climate finance included in
the Comprehensive Spending Review, which will include new money for the
UK’s contribution to REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and
Forest Degradation), a programme which aims to prevent the loss of
forests in developing countries.””
So from this, I conclude that the government considers it more
important to protect forests in developing countries than forests and
woodlands in the UK. I know which I would prefer my taxes to support.
Ah… Two hands forever separated by a torso. =:o}
It could be that Amazonian forests are a lot cheaper per hectare than British ones, and thus the more worthwhile investment.
Or it could be a case of “well, you *made* the damn silly commitment; you’d better find some to pay for it, quick!”
I’d definitely be interested to see anything she has to say in interviews about this.
I’d also be interested to know who’s thinking of buying the forests, and what they intend to do with them… And whether they have the sense to put some clause in about the buyer having to preserve the forest as a forest, and/or the govt having first dibs on buying the land back if/when it next goes up for sale.
There are quite a few issues involved, but these are the ones that occur to me.
Basically all of this alarmist theorising can be summed up in one sentance: “This is simply the thin end of the wedge.” By the time this is obvious to everyone, it will be too late.
The latest news is that now approximately 450 people are going to be laid off in the next 4 years by the Forestry Commission. This being made necessary by their annual budget being reduced by the goverment by 26%.
This makes for an easy circular argument by the government.
a) Budget/Job cuts are not a problem, as much of the work of the Forestry Commission is going to be transferred to private companies, charities or trusts.
b) It is necessary to sell off the woods/forests currently managed by the Forestry Commission, due to the budget/job cuts.
Meanwhile the latest report on the subject – from DEFRA itself, and signed off by minister Jim Paice – suggests that the selloff will actually cost the taxpayer money, rather than bring in the millions of pounds Caroline Spelman has been talking about.
Because the government will lose significant revenue streams in timber sales (as I predicted earlier) and also have to pay millions in compensation and redundancies, it is estimated that the total cost of the selloff to be £679m over 20 years compared to short term benefits of only be £655m.
Note that these aren’t figures created by tree-hugging, sandal-wearing, Guardian-reading beardy types such as myself, but from DEFRA’s own report.