The thousands of people who go down to the woods every weekend to take advantage of the Forestry Commission‘s ‘freedom to roam‘ policy will be in for a nasty surprise if a Government body set up to review forestry policy recommends privatisation when it reports next year. ‘Your Border Forests In Danger’ is a new campaign, formed to draw attention to the deliberations of the Forestry Review Group which is meeting in private to advise the Government on alternative options for the ownership and management of Forestry Commission woodlands.
The Forestry Commission currently supports a wide range of uses for its forests, giving emphasis to recreation, education and conservation of Sites of Special Scientific Interest, as well as timber production. Over 50 million visits every year are made to its estates which cover one twentieth of mainland Britain.
‘The Forestry Commission‘s freedom to roam policy is not just about allowing people into the forests. but actively encouraging them.‘ says Malcolm Crosby of the Forestry Unions Action Group and co-ordinator of the Borders campaign. ‘You won‘t find any other organisation. except for one managed purely for the public such as the National Trust for Scotland. which provides the facilities that we have, the recreational sites. forest walks, mountain bike trails. archery and forest classrooms.‘
Repeated assertions by Government ministers that the Forestry Review Group will take access and
conservation issues into account have been greeted with scepticism by
3 campaigners. So was a recent statement 3 by Scottish secretary Ian Lang on
Radio 4‘s Special xlsignmwrl.
. ‘Privatisation is only one answer to what we‘re looking at.‘ he said.
‘There‘s no presumption in favour of
' any particular approach to ownership or
However. immediately before the announcement of the review last March. a leaked letter from the then environment secretary John (iummer to
the Scottish Secretary urged that the
Forestry Commission should be
privatised in order to take it out of the
public sector. ‘So we are very
suspicious of the motives behind the
‘. Forestry Review Group.‘ says Crosby.
Over 300 organisations and I350 individuals have made submissions or offered comment to the the Forestry Review Group. One of these is the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. which commissioned an independent study into the costs of privatisation. ‘At present rates of planting and re-planting in order to maintain the forest. £5 1 .5 million of grants would have to be made every year to any successor bodies to the Forestry Commission.‘ according to Roger Turner who is eo-ordinating the RSPB‘s response. (Thom Dibdin) Forest/1v Unions Action Group can be contacted through K enny Murray on ()3 / 334 0303.
I Free drink Yes, it’s true; there will be an opportunity to sample free wine and food from the Lazio region of Italy as part of Edinburgh‘s Hogmanay (sec listing for details). The event is at the Assembly Rooms on 28 December. 2-5pm and 29 December. I lam—5pm. Let‘s hope Gazza doesn’t get to it first.
I Arts funding The Scottish Arts Council had its annual grant frozen by the Govemment at last year‘s figure of £24 million. The SAC is taking the view that though this represents a cut in real terms. it has done better than the London-based Arts Council. ‘To that extent devolution of SAC to the Scottish Office was the right move.‘ commented chairman Dr William Brown.
I Parliament vote The ballot of Falkirk people organised by the Coalition for Scottish Democracy (The List 2 l 6) showed overwhelming support for a Scottish parliament. though the number of returned ballot papers was seen as disappointing.
I Film festival A group of movie enthusiasts is organising a series of projections on public buildings over Hogmanay. Independent ﬁlmmakers are contributing short clips of ‘ambient‘ film which will be back-projected onto buildings in the city centre.
A picture is worth a 1000 words, they
‘ say, but National Museums of Scotland
is trying to bring the two together in
an innovative oral history project.
During December it is testing a new computer system which is designed to collect the memories and
reminiscences of a group of Glasgow
: people using photographs from The
_ Herald’s archive.
; The aim is to build up a ‘memory
g bank’ of the 20th century for the new i Museum of Scotland which is due to
I open in Edinburgh in 1998. The
I curators hope that visitors to the
é museum will be able to add their own i recollections which would be
Coronation celebrations in Glasgow’s George situate. 1953. (Picture courtesy of The Herald)
triggered by the computerised images.
‘It you think back to what is recorded in history it is made up of important events,’ says HMS education officer Anne Stevenson. ‘0ral history is the ordinary person’s account of the background to those historical events. If you’re dealing with the 17th century there’s no one around say you’re wrong but with the 20th century there are no experts - any visitor may find some way of contributing.’
If the Glasgow pilot is successful, HMS curators hope to start collecting reminiscences from all over Scotland for the new museum’s 20th century
vgallery. (Eddie Gibb)
V ACTION U
I Reclaim The Streets The group which takes direct action against motor traffic in defence of cyclists. pedestrians and other non-motorised road users is looking for new members. On Thurs 13 Jan it is holding a public meeting at Edinburgh’s Unemployed Workers Centre. lO3 Broughton Street. 031 557 0718. The meeting will include a video of last summer‘s demonstration when Reclaim The Streets cyclists managed to block George Street with a massed slow bike- ride.
I GLC Ceilidh Following the Glasgow Gay and Lesbian Centre‘s successful Glasgay! bash in November. the groups‘s December fund-raising ceilidh will be at the Winter Gardens. People‘s Palace on Sun I9 Dec from Spin—12.30am. Tickets costing £6 (£5 concessions and GLC members) are available from Clyde Books. 25 Pamie Street and the GLC project. PO Box 38 G2 2QF.
I Edinburgh Lesbian line Benefit A women only party/disco is being held to see the New Year in on 3l December at the Cafe Royal. 17 West Register Street. Edinburgh from 8pm-Iam. Tickets costing £3.50 (£2 unwaged) will be available on the door or from Edinburgh Lesbian Line, 031 557 075i (Mon—Thurs. 7.30—l0pm).
I Advocates for Animals Geilidh The Edinburgh volunteer support group for Scotland’s leading animal welfare organisation. Advocates for Animals. is organising a fundraising ceilidh with the Auld Town Ceilidh Band on Sat 18 at the Walpole Hall. Chester Street. Edinburgh from 8pm—l2.30am. Tickets cost £4 (£3) and are available from Advocates for Animals. 10 Queensfeny Street. Edinburgh, 03l 225 6039.
I Action Breaks The Scottish Conservation Projects Trust organises action breaks for people to get out into the countryside and do their bit to help improve the quality of the environment. Over 60 breaks are listed in their new brochure. doing tasks from the Borders to Shetland and involving projects as diverse as drystane dyking. creating coastal footpaths. restoring old buildings and planting native trees. SCP. F/94, Freepost, Stirling FK8 28R or phone 0786 479697.
I If you have news of any events or courses which you want publicised in
# this column, please forward them to
‘Action’ at The List, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 HE and include a day-
Qui20f - The Year 1993
The List 17 December 1993—13 January I994 5