Proposed Government Forestry sell-off.

[singlepic id=277 w=320 h=240 float=right]The Government have just announced updated plans regarding their proposed sell-off to the private sector of parts of England’s forests. Currently in England 18% of Forests are state owned representing a quarter of a million hectares. However the Government received a shock when 75% of individuals in England were opposed to such a move. In both Scotland and Wales it has been announced there will be no privatisation of Forestry assets.

One big concern for conservationists has always been that should any sell-off go ahead indigenous wildlife, particularly raptors like the goshawk would begin to suffer for the first time. Private ownership of England’s forests is almost certain to result in diversification to increase financial returns for the new owners. One way of achieving this aim would be by introducing game shooting into these regions. To address public concerns, the Government have now provided assurances that suitable safeguards will be put in place to ensure future security and safety of all protected wildlife after privatisation. In that case we should all be very worried because existing legislation designed to protect England’s birds of prey on our uplands has failed miserably despite strong legislation.

One example is the hen harrier, despite wildlife legislation introduced by Parliament  to protect avian raptor species like the hen harrier, last year only 7 pairs managed to rear young throughout England. It is no coincidence that currently hen harriers are conspicuous by their forced exile on 99% of privately owned moorland in Northern England.

The plight of goshawks is known to be as bad throughout areas of privately owned woodlands where they are given short shrift by a majority of gamekeepers to protect game stocks. An example of one region where the goshawk has been particularly hard hit by human persecution is the northern Peak in Derbyshire. Throughout the last decade the once thriving goshawk population known to have been resident within this important region has now been decimated. What will tappen to the core population of goshawk in areas of state owned forestry like the Kielder forest in Northumberland?

Raptor Politics has no doubt these “straps and braces” proposals by the present Government are the result of poor judgement and will almost certainly do more harm than good. Apart from anything else the revenue generated for the Exchequer will be minimal compared to the wildlife assets our country may stand to loose if the Government gets its way.

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