Who are we?
FRIENDS of the FOREST is an organisation formed in February 2003 following a public meeting called by the Countryside Agency in late January 2003. At the January meeting grave suspicions were raised that it seemed likely the Agency was about to renege upon an assurance given by Frank Dobson, M.P. in April 1997 - that an incoming Labour Government would give special status to the Forest of Dean in the form of "enhanced" AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Suspicions regarding an about turn on the part of the Countryside Agency were later confirmed by their betrayal of all that had been anticipated since Frank Dobson`s statement when, at their April 2003 Board Meeting, they decided to “Put AONB in the back pocket”, and to engage in yet more time-consuming and costly investigations into so-called “Integrated Rural Development”, still without anything statutory to protect the natural environment of the Forest of Dean District.
FRIENDS of the FOREST and its thousands of supporters are bringing attention to, and opposing, the cynical prevarication and dodging of the very clearly documented need for parliamentary legislation to protect what is universally recognised as the outstanding landscapes of the Forest of Dean, together with its extremely important biodiversity and its unique social, cultural and historic heritage.
Without such categorically defined statutory protection, there is no way that planners can prevent, at appeal stage, the determined efforts of developers who wish to exploit the area at the expense of the precious and irreplaceable attributes stated above.
The active membership of our non-political organisation is made up of environmentally concerned and publicly spirited people from a broad spectrum of local society.
Members include private individuals, parish, and district councillors, together with representatives from Friends of the Earth, The Council for the Protection of Rural England, The Forest of Dean Historical Society, and several other local groups.
Our Patron is The Right Honourable the Baroness Royall of Blaisdon, who speaks on behalf of the Forest of Dean in the Lords.