Hands Off Our Forest
A campaign to keep the
Forest of Dean out of private hands

We believe that public ownership of the Public Forest Estate must be secured through new legislation.

The rich cultural, historical and natural diversity of our forests and woods, and full access to them, is best protected under the continued steward-ship of the Forestry Commission, fully resourced to sustainably manage and expand our multi-purpose public forest estate now and in the future

Statement from HOOF

Working together in our myriad ways we have had quite an impact in Westminster. Well done everyone who helped! While we will keep a watching brief on this Government,our task now is to ensure the next Government gives us proper protection in a charter and new law, as they've promised but so far failed to deliver. Our Forests aren't saved until we get lasting protection confirming genuine public ownership (and management). PEOPLE POWER WILL WIN THE DAY!




Just to remind what this all about, here is our original submission to the Indepent Panel way back in June 2011. Read it and you will see why it is as relevant today as it was was then. It makes it all too clear that we are not out of the woods yet.



Incidentally, it makes a very good read, reminds us all what a wonderful place we live in and has some great photographs



"This was a quiet revolution by men who knew their rights and were determined to get them legally acknowledged and preserved in written evidence so that they could not be overturned again. They were... securing their future, and they knew that had to be done in writing"


These quotes sound as if they were written about the HOOF campaign. In fact they appear in a book by Juliet Barker about the Peasants revolt of 1381. Some things never change!


Wednesday 1st January 2014 2013

Here we go again!


When HOOF, back in February, broadly welcomed the Government's response to the Forestry Panel Report, we said at the time that the devil would be in the detail.


We now know that the detail is very devilish indeed.


Far from embracing the forestry panel's recommendation to put the English forests into the hands of a body of independent, non-political guardians, thus safeguarding them for the foreseeable future, the Government proposals make it clear they want a minister to have total control. How is this different from the original ill-fated Public Bodies bill that we all helped smash?


Not only will this unleash the spectre of privatisation once again, but it will leave the forests, and the Forest of Dean, prey to the whim of whatever government is in power.


The Government has a chance to do the decent, fair and moral thing by putting our forests out of the reach of the greedy and unscrupulous, but I'm afraid it has blown it.


That is why HOOF is meeting as a matter of urgency and why we must all keep up the pressure on the government to abide by their word and do the right thing.


Wednesday 6th February 2013

Seeing The Woods For The Trees

An opinion piece by

Robin Maynard

Writing about how the Government was forced into its historic U turn, Robin Maynard says:


"It was 'Big Society' ...those half a million people who signed 38 Degrees ‘Save Our Forests’ on-line petition; the dog-walkers, horse-riders, mountain-bikers, fresh-air seeking families; the former mining communities fighting for reforested spoil-heaps, local saw mills dependent on the timber from well-managed FC woods - and especially, the communities living within and working amidst them , the various ‘friends of forests’ groups, amplified by the efforts of Save Our Wood , HOOF and Our Forests."


Read the full article here

Tuesday 15th January 2013

Politics and the Panel

An opinion piece by

Roderick Leslie

As the Government’s response to the Independent Panel approaches it’s clear there is only one way out of the political mess the Conservatives landed themselves in. That is to understand, accept and take action to turn the panel’s views into policy ...

Read the complete piece here


Friday 11th January 2013


A drop in the ocean - but a green world of difference


£22 million per year. That's what it costs to keep the Forestry Commission and all the English public forests going. It sounds a lot to you and me, but in the rarified world of government finance it is nothing. It works out at just 30p per year per taxpayer! This is stunning value for money when compared to other important and life-enhancing facilities such as opera, the arts, sport, etc, all of which cost far more.


It is a win win situation for the government and for all of us. For a mere 30p a year, which the public has demonstrated they are more than happy to pay, we get free access to our glorious forests, the lungs of the world, the emerald spaces that calm and revive. Compare that to what you spend a year on, say, TV, cinema, books, or beer and it looks like a no-brainer.


In fact, there is evidence that people would pay more if it meant having an effective and properly funded Forestry Commission who could conduct research into, and prevent, some of the tree diseases that have caused so much devastation recently.


If, as has been rumoured, the government is thinking of running down the Forestry Commission even further and cutting the public funding to our forests by passing on the costs to charities or private concerns - an unacceptable strategy that will seriously jeopardising the future of our forests - it will be guilty of letting down the English people for countless generations to come.


And if, as is also rumoured, the Government makes no provision to recognise the special and unique situation of the Forest of Dean and protect its status by legislation, they will find they have misjudged the mood of the people once again.


Saturday 28th August 2012

Foresters celebrate their victory

- but speakers sound warning note


"This Government cannot be trusted one inch", said keynote speaker Jonathon Porritt


On Saturday 28th July Foresters from all walks of life celebrated the independent panel's report at Speech House with local musicians, invited speakers and a hog roast and bar.


Forester editor Viv Hargreaves introduced the speakers, HOOF chairman Rich Daniels, Baroness Jan Royall, campaigner Jonathon Porritt and Sir Harry Studholme, one of the members of the independent panel who's report backed HOOF's stance to keep the English Forests out of private hands.


Rich Daniels           Jonathon Porritt


Jan Royall             Harry Studholme


Local musicians Bob Smith, Forest of Dean Brass, Asha Faria-Vare, Max, Gorg n Zola, Muddy Summers, Mike Edwards, and Folklaw performed, and Keith Morgan entertained us with his stories.


Mike Smith


Asha Faria-Fare        Max





Wednesday 27th June 2012



In a strongly worded statement, a consortium of Our Forests, HOOF and many other forest community groups has warned the Government to expect "...a conflagration in constituencies across England." if they do not listen to the public, and press ahead with their original plans to take our woodlands out of public ownership.


For further details see our lead article, centre column, this page


You can read or download the full document here


Wednesday 27th June 2012



38 Degrees, whose online petition raised many thousands of signatures in support of keeping our woodland in public ownership, have just launched a new emergency petition on the eve of the Independent Panels report, due out on the 4th July.


You can add your name to the new petition here:



For all this and more go to our News section


And now you can visit our Archives page for all those stories you may have missed.




HOOF Rally 3rd Jan

Images, text and links to other reports about the rally have now moved to the Archives page


Remember that everything that has appeared on this website can be found on the News, Information or Archives pages.




Click the poster to download it.

Sun 11th Jan 2015



A timeline to remind us all of the struggle, setbacks and successes of HOOF and others opposed to the privatisation of our forests, with links to key documents.


A fascinating read as well as an important historical document. Click here

"Tuftorn - A Million Miles From Westminster"

By Doug Eaton. Click to enlarge



Tom Cousins has been busy creating some amazing infrastructure bill murals around the Forest.

Click an image to enlarge.



Now incorporating








"...get our public woods and forests out of the hands of distant, detached ministers only interested in short-term asset-stripping and protect them for everyone, for ever".


Rich Daniels, HOOF Chairman and member of Our Forests, writing in Our Forests latest publication


HOOF are founder members of the Forest Campaigns Network


HOOF Hands off our forest


"Maybe this is the defining moment, the point when people say ' This is not right, this is not the way to proceed' ".

Jonathon Porrit, talking at the HOOF rally earlier this year




We are now on Wikipedia


FOLLOW US ON hands off our forest @handsoffdean


Click here to see the long long list of people and organisations who have pledged to support HOOF.





Forest Holidays, a company 15% owned by the Forestry Commission, is planning to build 68 large-scale holiday houses with an on-site shop, take-away food facilities, a restaurant, bar and cycle hire facility, near the peaceful beauty spot of High Vinnalls in Herefordshire, very near the border with Shropshire.

The Save Mortimer Forest campaign strongly opposes this and believes it’s a bad deal for wildlife, local people and for the Forestry Commission. Wildlife habitat will be destroyed and, although the public will still have access to the area, visitors to Mortimer Forest – who are attracted by the unspoilt beauty, peace and tranquillity of the forest - won’t want to walk through a busy holiday park.  Effectively, this reduces the area of public forest which the public can actually enjoy – and all for a derisory return for the Forestry Commission.



To find out more, and to lend your support, you can visit the Save Mortimer Forest website

Sign the 38 DEGREES petition

or visit Save Mortimer Forest on








"Why we must keep fighting"



HOOF has produced a document explaining why our Forest is still under threat.


Download it here. Read it, print it out, send it to everyone you know. This leaflet will make it clear why we have not yet won the battle to keep our forests out of the hands of property developers and charities.





Triangle FM

To listen to our very own Forest radio station, click here