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Hands off our Forest

Hands off our Forest (HOOF) is a campaign group FORMED in 2010 to fight the UK Government’s Proposed sale of publicly owned land in the Forest of Dean . ‘Hands off our Forest’ to describe themselves as a broad alliance of groups and individuals. [1]

Historical context

The Forest of Dean has a long history of conflict between commoners and the Crown , Government and private landowners. [2] The Dean Forest Timber Act (1808) resulted in a large area of ​​the forest being privately owned and privately owned, and led directly to the Dean Forest Riots of 1831. [3]

In 1981, Parliament passed the Forestry Act (1981), amending an earlier act of 1967 to allow the sale of land by the Forestry Commission . Following a sustained campaign, citation needed ] the Forest of Dean Was SPECIFICALLY exempted from the act. [4] The Public Bodies Bill, introduced to Parliament in October 2010, proposed to amend the Forestry Act 1967, potentially repealing the Forest of Dean exemption. [5]

Background to the HOOF campaign

Towards the end of October, 2010, newspaper reports emerged, claiming that the Government was planning to sell off public forests in England. [6] [7] [8] Following discussions with Dean Forest Voice, Baroness Royall and other individuals, Forest of Dean newspaper, The Forester , responding by announcing the formation of a ‘Hands off our Forest’ campaign. [9] The reports were confirmed in late October, when the Minister for Agriculture and Food, MP James Paice , wrote to MPs [10] to explain the Government’s reasons for including powers to modernize forestry legislation in the Public Bodies Bill ,[11] which had been introduced to Parliament. His letter confirmed the Government was “exploring new ownership” options for forestry land currently managed by the Forestry Commission; which include large areas of the Forest of Dean.

National reaction

According to The Guardian , ‘the news [is] met with near-universal disgust and shock’. [12] The same newspaper also quoted Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the Green Party , as saying it was an “unforgivable act of environmental vandalism”. An online petition opposing the sale, titled Save Our Forests [13] has so far received more than 500,000 signatories.

Local reaction

The member of Parliament for the Forest of Dean , Mark Harper , Defended the Proposals, em Describing as an ‘exciting opportunity for community ownership. [14] He also said James Paice’s letter assured him everything the public holds about the Forest of Dean. [15] However, the proposals were widely criticized by residents within its constituency, [16] [17] by the local press [18] and by politicians with connections to the Forest of Dean, most notably Baroness Royall , Leader of the Opposition. the House of Lords. She described Mark Harper as‘fundamentally wrong’ and his views on the subject ‘utter nonsense’. [19] [20] Concerning the local community resulted in a number of organizations joining the alliance, adopting ‘Hands off our Forest’ (HOOF) as its name.

Aims and strategy

HOOF’s website Describes icts aim as being white ‘to keep the Forest [of Dean] as it is – publicly owned and Publicly run by the Forestry Commission’ and Its strategy as being white ‘that government shoulds respect the 1981 Act Regarding the Forest of Dean and give it, and the other Heritage Forests, full protection from disposal. [21]

Public consultation

On January 27, 2011, the Government published a consultation document. [22] Despite the Public Bodies Bill having been in the House of Lords for the first time, planned to “transfer the ownership or management of the broad heritage site on the public forest estate to a charity or charities, or via a trust arrangement ……… lease at no cost to the new owner.”

Reviews This was Claimed as a victory by campaigners Some, [23] ALTHOUGH HOOF rejected the handover plan Deciding to stick to icts aim of Gaining year exemption for the Forest of Dean from the Public Bodies Bill; so ensuring it stayed in public ownership and protected from any future sale. [24]

Mark Harper held a public meeting in Coleford on February 4. Despite being given only 2 days notice, 400 people turned up, [25] He had to be rescued by police. [26]

Campaign victory

The campaign has Celebrated partial victory is 17 February 2011 When, speaking in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for the Environment , Caroline Spelman , MPs Told the government had ” got this one wrong .” She announced the consultation process had been halted and that the Government would remove the forestry clauses from the Public Bodies Bill. An independent panel aussi Would be set up to consult on the issue of the future direction of forestry and woodland, and will carryover to the government in the autumn of 2011. [27] [28] [29]However, HOOF pledged to fight against the privatization policy, and called for representation on the panel. The group also said it would be part of the 1981 Forestry Act. [30] [31]

Timeline of events

Hands off our Forest public meeting, December 2010.
  • 23-24 October 2010. National newspapers report that the Government is planning to sell off public forests. [6] [7] [8]
  • October 28th. Forest of Dean weekly newspaper, The Forester , launches a ‘Hands off our Forest’ campaign. [9]
    On the same day, the Public Bodies Bill is introduced to the House of Lords by Lord Taylor of Holbeach . [32]
  • 31 October. The Minister for Agriculture and Food, MP James James , writes to MPs, [10] confirming that the Government is “exploring new ownership” options for publicly owned forests in England. [33]
  • 1 November. Dean Forest Voice co-ordinates the formation of a steering group. [34]
  • 6 November. With HOOF Still Not Strongly Formed, The Forest of Dean and the Freeman Dave Harvey arranged a preliminary rally at the Speech House. A group of about 50 people gather in a brand. [35]
  • 9 November. The Public Bodies Bill receives its second reading in the House of Lords. [36] It includes clauses which could enable the Secretary of State to amend the Forestry Act 1967 and order the disposal of Forestry Commission land in England.
  • November 10th. Hands off our Forest (HOOF) is officially adopted by the inaugural meeting of an alliance of several pre-existing local organizations, including ‘Dean Forest Voice’, Friends of the Forest, Forest of Dean Local History Society , Forest trade unions, Gloucestershire Play, Forest & Wye Valley Review, Forester newspaper, Freeminers ‘and Commoners’ associations. [37] A committee is elected.
  • Throughout November and early December, HOOF campaigns at events around the Forest of Dean, [38] distributes “Forest of Dean – not for sale” boards, letter-writing campaigns and organizes a petition, which gains 5,000 signatures within its first month. [39]
    Mark Harper MP announces in early December that he will meet with protesters in January 2011, when the government is going to publish a white paper on forestry [40] and canvasses constituents in Coalway , asking their opinions on “an opportunity to own our Forest “. [41]
  • 23 November. The Public Bodies Bill.
  • November 24th. Minister James Paice conceded to a House of Lords EU Select Committee’s forestry inquiry that, under the rules, it might not be ‘t be. [42] [43]
  • December 9 The Forest of the Dean District Council agrees to back to the Prime Minister, MPs and Lords against any sell-off. [44]
  • December 10th. About 500 people is waiting for a public meeting, organized by Cinderford Town Council and backed by HOOF, held at the Miners Welfare Hall in Cinderford, to hear passionate speeches from Baroness Royall, and Richard Daniels (HOOF chairman) and members of the audience. The Government’s forest privatization clause in the Public Bodies Bill was condemned but Baroness Royall stated his belief that it was unlikely the clause could be overturned. Efforts would have to concentrate on achieving an exemption for the Forest of Dean, on the grounds that it was different from other forests, for historical reasons, having the footpaths and bridleways closed. [45]
  • December 15 HOOF members join a national rally outside the Houses of Parliament, organized by Save Our Forests and the Public and Commercial Services Union . [46]
  • December 16 It is reported that HOOF has gone back from Coleford and Cinderford Town Councils and Drybrook Parish Council, while Lydney Town Council and West Dean Parish Council voted unanimously to express their objection to any sale. [47] Actor Richard Wilson , Bishop of Gloucester , Bishop of Guildford , Baroness Fritchie and Chancellor of the Exchequer, Denis Healey , whose wife Edna Healey was from Coleford, endorse the HOOF campaign. [46]
  • December 20 Environmentalist Jonathon Porritt backs the HOOF campaign in his blog. [48]
  • December 23rd. More campaign endorsements are Reported, Including author Bill Bryson , Lydbrook Parish Council , Forest in Transition (part of the Transition Towns movement), children’s author Shoo Rayner. [49] and the Bishop of Gloucester . [50]
  • 3 January 2011. 3000 people waiting at HOOF rally at Meadow Speech House, including a procession through the Cyril Hart Arboretum led by the Forest of Dean Brass Band. [51] Speeches are heard from Jonathon Porritt, Baroness Jan Royall, The Bishop of Guildford and others.
  • 17 January. A deputation organized by Forest District Council meet Lords at Westminster. [52]
  • 23 January. Over 120 cyclists are waiting at HOOF cycle rally at Cannop Cycle Center .
  • January 27th. The Government published its consultation document. See the Public consultation section.
  • 31 January. HOOF steering group unanimously decides to reject the handover plan and stick with it’s gaining an exemption from the Public Bodies Bill.
  • February 4th. Mark Harper holds a public meeting to discuss the proposals. See the Public consultation section.
  • February 11th. The Government announces it has 15% of the public forest estate (on which it plans to sell the highest bidder for its own account). [53] Some of those earmarked for sale are under the Forest of Dean, but outside the protected area of ​​forest. [54]
  • 17 February. The Government announces plans to transfer state-owned forests to the private sector have been abandoned. See the Campaign victory section.
  • February 19. Baroness Jan Royall ceremoniously removes a yellow ribbon from an oak, but warns “this is not necessarily the end” of the battle. [55]
  • February 26th. HOOF hosts a summit of local and national public forest groups in the Forest of Dean. As a result, the Forest Campaigns Network is formed to fight the next stage of the battlefield with local and national groups in a united front of the public. [56]
  • March 20 HOOF plans events, such as cycling and barbecue, as part of a national Celebrate Our Forests day, co-ordinated by the FCN and 38 Degrees. People taking part will be encouraged to wear something yellow or to display a yellow ribbon.

Related art, film and music

The campaign has a wide range of artwork, including creative banners, newspaper cartoons and children’s artwork – some instigated by local schools. A protest artwork by Doug Eaton filled the window of The Gallery in Cinderford. [57] The fire sculpture Big BENt (a wooden effigy of Big Ben by Phil Bews) has become a national icon after being burnt at the January 3 HOOF rally and featured in The Guardian . [58] The rally poster, by Helen Sandford, was also a historic and notable work of art. [59] Woodrow Filmmaker “Woody” Morris was one of several people who made their own short films of the rally [60]and several filmmakers are (as of March 2011) in the process of making movies inspired by the campaign, including Mike Thomas, who chronicled many events Mark Harper’s February 2011 public meeting. [61]

The protest singer, Billy Bragg , gave permission for His British adaptation of Woody Guthrie ‘s This Land Is Your Land to be used in the campaign, and is included was HOOF benefit called Expired CD HANDS OFF , [62] qui aussi features new protest songs performed by the musicians who performed at the January 3 rally. HOOF’s website is an exhibition of photographs and accounts of the campaign. In addition, Tom Cousins ​​has voluntarily painted a wide range of murals on the forest of Dean of homes and offices. [63]

See also

  • The Forestry Commission
  • Mark Harper MP (Forest of Dean)


  1. Jump up^ Hoof information page
  2. Jump up^ The Forester’s Forest: A History of Protest, Struggle and Victories
  3. Jump up^ www.forestry.gov.uk
  4. Jump up^ Forestry Act 1981
  5. Jump up^ The Forester: New law
  6. ^ Jump up to:b Report in The Telegraph
  7. ^ Jump up to:b Report in The Guardian
  8. ^ Jump up to:b Report in The Independent
  9. ^ Jump up to:b The Forester , Hands off our Forest!
  10. ^ Jump up to:b DEFRA website, Forestry in England: A new strategic approach
  11. Jump up^ www.parliament.uk Public Bodies Bill
  12. Jump up^ www.guardian.co.uk The great forest sell-off
  13. Jump up^ 38degrees.org.uk Save our petition
  14. Jump up^ The Forest and Wye Valley Review, 19 November 2010, page 15
  15. Jump up^ It’s like selling the family silver
  16. Jump up^ www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk Support grows against Forest sell off
  17. Jump up^ www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk Hands off our Forest
  18. Jump up^ The Forester , Hands off our Forest
  19. Jump up^ Forest and Wye Valley Review, 26 November 2010, page 12
  20. Jump up^ Chepstow Today ‘Utter nonsense’
  21. Jump up^ HOOF homepage
  22. Jump up^ The Future of the Public Forest Estate in England
  23. Jump up^ www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk
  24. Jump up^ HOOF website
  25. Jump up^ www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk
  26. Jump up^ Robert Mendick and Rebecca Lefort (5 Feb 2011). “Minister confronted by protesters as tempers flare over forest sell-off” . London: Daily Telegraph . Retrieved 12 Feb 2011 .
  27. Jump up^ Watt, Nicholas (17 February 2011). “Forest sell-off abandoned: I’m sorry, I got it wrong, says Caroline Spelman” . The Guardian . London.
  28. Jump up^ BBC News video
  29. Jump up^ BBC News
  30. Jump up^ http://www.theforester.co.uk/news.cfm?id=6595&headline=HOOF+camp+victorious+but+vigilant[The Forester: HOOF camp victorious goal vigilant]
  31. Jump up^ http://www.forest-and-wye-today.co.uk/News.cfm?id=7527&headline=Now+let%27s+win+the+war! [Forest Review: Now let’s win the war !]
  32. Jump up^ www.parliament.uk House of Lords Library Note
  33. Jump up^ www.publications.parliament.uk Public Bodies Bill
  34. Jump up^ Forest Review: Call to arms
  35. Jump up^ [1]
  36. Jump up^ www.parliament.uk Public Bodies Bill: second reading
  37. Jump up^ The Forester Newspaper
  38. Jump up^ Lydney Today, Coordination, anger as HOOF gets the bit between its teeth
  39. Jump up^ HOOF: How to protest
  40. Jump up^ Forest Review: PM Plans meeting we sell-off
  41. Jump up^ The Forester: MP Leaflets Villagers on “owner plan”
  42. Jump up^ Hansard – House of Lords EU Select Committee, November 24
  43. Jump up^ John Vidal – For Sale: All of our forests
  44. Jump up^ The Forester Today, Council backing for HOOF campaign
  45. Jump up^ The Forester Woodlands are a special box
  46. ^ Jump up to:b The Forester: Campaign join strengths with national protest
  47. Jump up^ The Forester: HOOF: 5,000 sign up
  48. Jump up^ Jonathon Porritt: Why You Would not want to be Mark Harper MP
  49. Jump up^ Shoo Rayner: What is the point of an MP?
  50. Jump up^ The Forester – Top environmentalists back HOOF campaign
  51. Jump up^ Guardian.co.uk
  52. Jump up^ The Forester , Delegation takes message to top
  53. Jump up^ www.independent.co.uk
  54. Jump up^ http://www.theforester.co.uk/news.cfm?id=5065&headline=Woods+outside+Forest+could+be+sold+by+2014
  55. Jump up^ http://blip.tv/file/4824789[TV Blip: Forest of Dean celebration …]
  56. Jump up^ http://www.theforester.co.uk/News.cfm?id=6983&headline=Campaign+groups+meet+in+the+Dean[The Forester: Campaign groups meet in the Dean]
  57. Jump up^ http://www.theforester.co.uk/News.cfm?id=43663&headline=Artist+Doug%27s+protest+on+canvas
  58. Jump up^ Vidal, John (3 January 2011). “Forest of Dean protesters fight big woodland selloff” . The Guardian . London.
  59. Jump up^ http://www.lydney-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=45378&headline=Top%20names%20headline%20at%20Speech%20House%20rally
  60. Jump up^ http://vimeo.com/18793739
  61. Jump up^ http://bristolindymedia.blip.tv/file/4727763/
  62. Jump up^ http://www.poetpilot.com/hoof_cd.htm
  63. Jump up^ http://www.tomcousins.co.uk/Hands%20Off%20Our%20Forest.html

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