Environmental conservation has become a priority in many countries today. This is because the level of environmental degradation is currently very high in the world and its effects are already being felt. Many countries are currently trying as much as possible to conserve the few natural resources they are left with. “The world environmental organizations like UNEP have also been encouraging various countries to come up with policies that would prevent the destruction of their natural resources” (Jansen 127).
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However, some countries are actually trying to contradict the environmental conservation plans, and Britain is a good example. “The British government’s plan to sell its forests has received serious criticism from the public and environmentalists” (Reuters). “According to the British government, the sale of the forest would enable them get money for financing their national budget which had a deficit during the last financial year” (Jansen).
The State owned forests in Britain are under the management of the Forestry Commission. “This Commission holds about 1.85 million acres of woodland, about a third of which may be sold off, in one the biggest land sales in British history” (Reuters). The government has been trying to reassure the public that forests will be properly managed by the private organizations.
The governments also agues that through the sale of this land, they will not reduce their expenses on other sectors like education and health which many people would wish to be improved. However, the public is rather skeptical about the capacity of the private owners to manage the forests because of the following reasons.
Importance of the Forest
Forests are one of the most important natural resources in Britain. For example, they have helped in protecting the environment and the wildlife (McComb 298). Water resources have also been sustained by forests. They can prevent massive destruction of property that would arise from strong winds. “Some of the trees found in the government forests have been used in the manufacture of medicines” (Jansen). The beauty of the environment is also enhanced by forests.
Effects of Selling the Forest
Selling of the forests would have so many effects in Britain and they include the following.
“Environmentalists have noted that environmental degradation would increase if the management of these forests is transferred to private organizations/ companies” (Jansen). This is because the private owners would simply use them to serve their own interests at the expense of other environmental factors.
“For example, massive cutting down of trees is likely to take place and this would have a negative effect on the environment” (Berger 234). The developers would also use the forest land for construction of hotels and other recreational facilities which may interfere with the forests.
Public Access to Forests
The public access to the forests would be affected because the private owners would come up with restrictions on the use of the forests. For instance, the private owners would not allow the citizens to carry out free visits to the forests. “Public access to the forests would further be hindered by the possible failure of the owners of the forests to manage car parks and other facilities which facilitate public access” (Reuters).
“Some of the sectors of the British economy largely depended on timber products and the privatization of the government forests will cause some restrictions in timber production” (Jansen). Apart from this, the private owners may increase prices of timber products for their own benefits.
If the trees are mismanaged there will be no timber resources in future. The cost of transferring the government forests to the private owners will be shouldered by the government and this will cause unnecessary financial burden. “Even though there will be financial gain to the government, it will only provide a short term solution to financial problem” (Reuters).
The government will also lose its long term potential of getting revenues from the forests. These factors can have negative impacts on the economy of Britain. The government however believes that the privatization will boost earnings in the private sector, and it will also give the public an opportunity to manage their resources.
This issue has had serious political impacts especially on the popularity of the government. This is because the public generally feels that the government has failed to fulfill its promise of making the “country greener”. Some politicians have therefore seized this chance to strongly criticize the government.
Such criticisms have eroded the public trust in the government. For example the prime minister has been seriously criticized for supporting this decision. The future of the government is therefore jeopardized and they are likely to find it had to convince the public during the next election (Reuters).
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Bio fuel industries
These industries are likely to buy the forests and such a move would have serious consequences on the forests. “This is because they would simply burn available supplies of wood and, in the process, destroy businesses such as saw mills and panel board mills, that provide more green jobs and lock up carbon in wood products” (Perry 167).
Population and settlement
Many people are likely to encroach on the forest land with an aim of finding serene environments for settlement. This can happen if the private owners come up with residential units in some parts of the forest. If more residential units are constructed close to the forests, people will definitely misuse the forests. For example there will be uncontrolled exploitation of the forest resources.
Scientists also contend that biodiversity can become difficult to sustain if this plan goes through. This is because the small management units that might take over from the current management may not be committed in maintaining the standards of the forest.
The above discussion reveals the possible consequences of transferring the ownership of the forest to the private hands. It would therefore be better for the government to think of other avenues of getting financial support instead of wasting one of its key resources. The government should also be very keen in ensuring that the environment is protected. “The British government has now responded to the public demands by stopping its plan to sale the forests” (Jansen).
This decision has been warmly received by the public and the environmentalists who opposed the plan. “The government has also decided to reduce its funding on some sectors. For example it will not fully finance the education sector” (Jansen). Since the government has decided to stop the sale of the forest, many citizens are now optimistic that the government will remain focused on conserving the forests.
Berger, John. Forests forever: their ecology, restoration, and protection. New York: Wiley, 2008. Print.
Jansen, Mark. Ecologist. 8 December 2010. Web. <https://theecologist.org/>.
McComb, Brenda. Wild life management: concepts and applications in forestry. New York: CRC Press, 2007. Print.
Perry, David. Forest Ecosystems. New York: Prentice Hall, 2008. Print.
Reuters. UK forest sale plan scrapped after outcry. 17 February 2011. Web. <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-forests/uk-forest-sale-plan-scrapped-after-outcry-idUSTRE71G43A20110217>.