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Madam,

I really enjoy walking in Derbyshire. I love it because I feel we live in suffocating suburbs, which are mostly flat and don’t get your heart beating. I want to see the sky, and high hills, and greenery for as far as I can see. The Derbyshire hills are beautiful. Woodlands offer shade and beauty of a different kind, and we need to keep their variety, not only for walkers but for the many creatures who make their homes there. Insects are not just little things we can do without - remember the bees; we depend on bees.

It has been almost a year since the Secretary of State bowed to public pressure and put on hold proposals to sell England’s Forestry Estate. An independent panel was set up to look at the future of all forests in England and, along with the ramblers, I’m worried that people think that the battle has been won and our woodland walks are safe for future generations.

The Panel is busy gathering information for its final report in the Spring. I welcome its initial recommendation that the forests currently owned by the Forestry Commission should remain publicly owned, with a high level of public access. However, Forestry Commission land only accounts for 18% of English woodlands and I think this is a golden opportunity for the Panel to look at the other 82% of woodland and truly put public access at the heart of forestry policy in England.

I would be very grateful if you could publish this letter so that your readers can see that we still need to fight for a future of woodland walking.

Margaret Gallimore

Nottingham