A HUNDRED people keen to ensure Friston Forest is not sold off turned out at a rally at the popular beauty spot.
Government plans which could have seen the woodland near Seaford taken over by private companies, charities or community groups were abandoned but Dave Bangs, co-founder of ‘Keep Our Forests Public’, believes such areas are still under threat.
Under the proposals areas run by the Forestry Commission could have changed hands but earlier this month plans to sell off 258,000 hectares of state-owned woodland in England were abandoned after Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman told MPs the government had ‘got this one wrong’ and announced consultation had been halted.
The get-together on Sunday, March 20, was a celebration of the latest news but a reminder to keep campaigning so that forests across the region do not get sold off.
People came from Seaford, Eastbourne, Lewes and Hastings, as well as from Brighton, and a contingent from Red Rope, the socialist walking and climbing network, came down from London. Supporters from 38 Degrees and from Save Our Woods, the new on-line campaigning organisations also joined the event.
Kate Ashbrook, general Secretary of the Open Spaces Society,sand Tony Whitbread, Director of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, spoke at the rally, with Dave Bangs.
After the rally the group walked through the forest to its northern part, where a partnership of the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Forestry Commission is overseeing the creation of a large area of ‘wood pasture’ grazed by the Trust’s white park cattle.