Assurance of our support for Britain’s public forests

We respect and encourage all views from members of the community in which we operate or where we have presented new proposals, however in light of recent commentary which inaccurately represents Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission, we would like to clarify the facts around our partnership and our support for Britain’s public forests.

We are fully committed to the public ownership of the UK’s forests

We are aware of recent media articles and a petition criticising Forest Holidays and the Forestry Commission. The statements regarding the privatisation of the UK’s forests and damage to the environment are regrettable and simply untrue. These claims appear to be a reaction, by some individuals, to proposals for a new cabin location in Herefordshire and together with our Forestry Commission partners we are continuing to engage with the local community and seeking their views to ensure everyone has accurate information.

We are keen to assure you that Forest Holidays does not pursue the privatisation of the UK’s forests. We are fully committed to the public ownership of the UK’s forests now and into the future and we play an important role in securing that future. All of our locations are leased from the Forestry Commission and the land remains in trust for the nation, a commitment repeated in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan. There are categorically no boundaries or fences between our locations and the wider forest, ensuring public access for local communities and visitors.

Connecting people, nature and local communities

Forest Holidays was established by the Forestry Commission in 1973, and remains dedicated to its purpose connecting people, nature and local communities. We take concerns about any potential environmental damage and harm to wildlife very seriously. The entire ethos of a Forest Holiday is centered on the peaceful environment of a natural forest setting which is rich in habitat and the wildlife this sustains. It would not be in the company’s interest to jeopardise the very thing that makes us uniquely attractive as a holiday provider.

Our cabins are specially designed to be extremely low impact and overall our locations cover less than 0.063% of the public forest estate. We comply with stringent planning requirements and follow a rigorous procedure that ensures we grow in a manner that is both sustainable and that our proposals work for the forest, our neighbours and guests. The Forestry Commission tightly controls what happens in the forest and we work closely with wildlife organisations and environmental experts to manage and enhance the forest and wildlife around our locations. We are also committed to significant woodland and landscape improvement, woodland creation and ongoing management to provide extensive habitat for both existing and new species.

A sustainable income for forest management

We are one of more than 640 commercial businesses who support the Forestry Commission and these enterprises provide a wide range of recreational opportunities for the public. Forest management means planning for the long term and the rent that we pay to the Forestry Commission is guaranteed and index linked, providing a long term, reliable and sustainable income.

Please be assured that supporting the Forestry Commission in managing and enhancing the UK’s forests and protecting them for the enjoyment of future generations is at the heart of what we do.

Mortimer Forest update – 29 September 2018

Earlier this year we held public exhibitions outlining our proposals for Mortimer Forest.

The proposals included 68 cabins and an investment of £14.5 million, which would enable the Forestry Commission to deliver long term benefits for existing forest users, wildlife and the local economy by generating a sustainable annual income.

As well as our cabins, the proposals included new public toilets, a new design for a landscaped viewpoint at High Vinnalls, upgrades to the family-friendly natural play equipment, new and improved trails and areas of ecological and habitat enhancement.

However, during our extensive research and consultation process we have encountered some challenging practical issues. As a result of these we are not in a position to bring forward a planning application for Mortimer Forest and will focus instead on our many other priorities.

We would like to acknowledge the professionalism and support we have received from local councillors and Planning officers.