The Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT) was founded in 1993 with the objective of creating a counterpoint and challenge to the increasing industrialisation of the food-chain. A relentless intensification of agriculture which was depleting our countryside of its characteristic wildlife and forcing tens of thousands of farmers off the land, with the consequent loss of the mosaic of smaller, family farms that had created that countryside and sustained its creatures.
January ended up being a good month for England’s woods and forests (Ash dieback notwithstanding). On 31st January, the Government set out its response to the recommendations from the Independent Panel on Forestry. Chaired by Bishop James of Liverpool (highly-respected as a green-minded churchman, and for his part in finally achieving justice for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster), the Independent Forestry Panel was set up in a panic by the then Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman after the country-wide protest by people from across the political spectrum and class divide against the Government’s original proposal to ‘dispose of’ (Whitehall double-talk for ‘flog off’) all 1,500 woods and forests that make up the public forest estate in England.