Appreciating forests

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Two years ago I completed a Masters course at Sheffield University in Environmental Engineering before starting my PhD, which is in Energy.

As part of that Masters course I aided a local community with a feasibility study for a potential Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant in their village.

This was to provide some of the villagers’ households with a proportion of their electricity and heating requirements.

The CHP plant will use locally-sourced wood in either chip or pellet form.

Through working with a number of experts from such organisations as the Forestry Commission and DECC I gained a great deal of information about the utility of forests.

However I gained more than just information.

I gained an appreciation of forests, not only as a potential source of fuel, but the variety of species they can support.

I have a background in aerospace engineering and, as I said, environmental engineering and so I feel I have a certain gravitas when I say: there is a vast technical and social benefit by having sustainable forests.

I strongly feel that the potential selling of our forests would negatively affect not only people in my (and your) local community, but would detrimentally affect future generations.

There is a stark discontinuity between the aspirations of this country’s citizens and the enforced laws made by our elected politicians.

I do not think it too dramatic to say that the vote concerning the sell off could provide the model for how this government views the environment in which we all live.

If private ownership of forests is allowed to go ahead, the incentive/drivers for maintaining and sustaining forests shift from being a social benefit (the benefit for this nation’s citizens) to one of profit.

Could this vote herald the genesis of a new paradigm where all our natural resources are catalogued, priced and sold?

This is not the world I, and I believe many people, want to live in.

James PR Williams