Group reacts angrily to Greer forest comments

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COMMENTS made by the academic Germaine Greer have been branded ‘destructive and misinformed’ by the leader of a forestry group.

Writing in a national newspaper on April 29, Prof Greer called for Britain’s pine plantations to be felled and cited Thetford Forest as an example of where plantations had damaged biodiversity.

She also backed the Government’s proposed sale of woodland run by the Forestry Commission, saying that the plans – which were halted in February and will be resurrected in the autumn – were a ‘last-ditch attempt to get out of an impossible situation’.

Anne Mason, chairman of Friends of Thetford Forest Park, said Prof Greer’s contentions that biodiversity had been damaged were inaccurate.

“The recent Breckland Biodiversity Audit has led to the area being designated an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).

“The forest also contains over 50 per cent of the rare plant and beetle species found in the Brecks.

“I think it’s very unfortunate when someone who is known to the general public and has a certain profile expresses opinions without fully being aware of the facts,” she said.

Ms Mason added that Prof Greer’s assertion that Friends of Thetford Forest was a charity was incorrect.

“We are a voluntary organisation and do not have the capacity to finance a 24,000 hectare forest” she said.

In a written riposte to Prof Greer, Ms Mason also invites the Australian academic to visit the forest – a sentiment echoed by Simon Hodgson, chief executive of Foresty Commission England.

Also commenting in a letter on the newspaper’s website, Mr Hodgson backs Thetford Forest’s biodiversity credentials and says the Forestry Commission’s role has changed since it was first set up in 1919 to promote sustainability.

He said: “The majority of our forests and woodlands are multi-purpose, providing facilities for everyone to enjoy, as well as producing timber and successful wildlife and conservation initiatives.”