AN interim report from a panel looking into the future of forestry land has been welcomed by Nottinghamshire members of the Ramblers charity.
Last February, Prime Minister David Cameron’s controversial plans to sell off 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland ended up with an embarrassing u-turn by the new coalition Government.
Now the Independent Panel on Forestry (IPF), set up in response to the public outcry which followed the plans, said it would continue to preserve the same level, type and quality of access currently enjoyed in Sherwood Forest and other spots across the county.
The Ramblers welcomed the report but have warned against any complacency.
Members argue that, despite the encouraging views of the panel, there is ‘still a long way to go’.
Paddy Tipping, vice president of the Ramblers and president of Nottinghamshire Area Ramblers, said: “Earlier this year Ramblers and other forest users rallied together in our woodlands to show how much we care for both Sherwood Forest and all Public Forests in Nottinghamshire.
“It is indeed a triumph that the panel has heard our heartfelt message.
“They have recognised the public’s affinity for our forests and woodland and how much we value a walk in the woods as one of life’s simple pleasures.
“The panel now has a golden opportunity to be ambitious, to truly put public access at the heart of forestry policy in England and recommend that people are able to visit their local woodland wherever they may be.”
The final report will be made to Government in spring 2012.