‘I want you to fell it’ - Germaine Greer outrages volunteers as she advocates felling of Thetford Forest in controversial BBC Radio Four Farming Today interview

PUBLISHED: 09:48 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 08:29 21 March 2017

Thetford Forest. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Thetford Forest. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2015

It is one of the most beautiful and historic parts of the country, with 18,730 hectares of stunning woodland and precious trees which have lived for decades.

High Lodge in Thetford Forest. Picture: SONYA DUNCANHigh Lodge in Thetford Forest. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

But a celebrity has today advocated felling the picturesque Thetford Forest which attracts thousands of tourists every year - to the dismay of Norfolk residents and volunteers who work so hard to maintain it as one of the countryside’s best assets.

Australian-born writer and prominent feminist Germaine Greer was being interviewed on BBC Radio Four’s Farming Today programme as part of a series of programmes asking leading figures in public life on their views about agriculture after Brexit.

READ MORE: Who is Germaine Greer?

During the interview, broadcast at 5.45am today, she said: “People think Thetford Forest is a woodland.

“They say: ‘What do you want us to do with the woodland? Do you want us to sell it?’

“I say: ‘No, I want you to fell it.’

“And they say: ‘Oh! But you’d be cutting down trees.

“I say: ‘Yes, they shouldn’t be there.’ This is a much more precious habitat than a bit of old Scot’s pine.

“Come on - people think that trees will last forever and that you should never remove a tree, but they don’t and we know that trees in public places drop branches.

“People have got to be more aware of the natural world and what it takes to manage it properly, but they’re not.”

Anne Mason, chairman of the Friends of Thetford Forest - a volunteer group which aims to increase people’s understanding and use of the forest - said Ms Greer “appears to disregard the value of Thetford Forest for timber production, wildlife, archaeology and recreation”.

READ MORE: All about the history of Thetford Forest

Mrs Mason added that the Friends “clearly needs to continue its campaign so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from Thetford Forest”.

She pointed out that the area is “of high conservation value, designated an internationally important Special Protection Area (SPA) for its woodlark and nightjar and a nationally designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for its birds, plants, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates and geology”.

She went on to say: “The forest’s mosaic of different habitats provides the wildlife corridors which Ms Greer advocates to enable species to move freely through the countryside.

“In fact, the forest has a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) designation encompassing the 1,300ha of Breck-type open grassland within it, managed for its rare wildlife by the Forestry Commission in partnership with conservation organisations.

“Beneath the trees are prehistoric flint mines, Bronze Age burial mounds - probably the most extensive medieval warrening archaeology anywhere, gunflint mines and First and Second World War sites.

“In particular, Thetford Forest is a working landscape, producing timber for the nation and providing employment not only for foresters but for contractors, sawmillers, hauliers and tourism-related businesses.

“Far from being ‘a bit of old Scots’ Pine’, Corsican Pine, Douglas Fir, Larch, Weymouth Pine and broadleaves are also grown.

“In 2014, Thetford Forest won a Royal Forestry Society award for its experimental planting schemes trialling a range of species to mitigate the effects of climate change.

“It is a significant open access space in East Anglia and attracts regular visitors within a 50-mile radius who come to enjoy the varied outdoor recreation opportunities it offers.”

“How can Ms Greer justify the loss of the largest lowland pine forest in the country which has a proven record for delivering for timber production, wildlife and people?”

READ MORE: Reaction to Germaine Greer’s comments about Thetford Forest

The Forestry Commission has been contacted by this paper for comment but so far has not responded.

What do you think? Email your views to

READ MORE: The EDP says - felling Thetford Forest as Germaine Greer suggests would surely mean we lose a great asset to our region


  • As mentioned by others in the trail of comments, Thetford forest should be managed with older trees being felled and replaced by new younger trees which is my understanding of how the forest has been managed over the many previous years.

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    Tuesday, March 21, 2017

  • Rather an inflammatory headline, if one listens to BBC radio iPlay then you will realize that Germaine Greer knows a great deal about the natural world. All she is advocating is that it could be returned to its historic natural state with no doubt plenty of trees but without the agri crop of pines.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Anyone who visit the area regularly will see the trees are felled . Then the land is it’s replanted again. A lot of fuss about nothing.

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    C C

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I've lived in Norfolk all my life and love Thetford Forest. Although it is not a natural forest, it's an important place for timber production, wildlife and recreation. It's only one silly woman's comment; I reckon the majority of people would not want to see the forest gone.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • We need to take a leave out of the Aussie government book when someone obnoxious comes into the community and deport her back to her homeland.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Give me swathes of breckland heath any day over square miles of rows of pine trees Just look at what has been achieved at Roydon Common

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Having worked for 20 years for a major tyre manufacturer, I regularly called on the Forestry Commission workshops at Santon Downham. To clarify the situation Thetford Forest is a wood farm. Things might have changed but they used to work on a 30 year cycle and if anyone gets a chance to see a felling train in operation, it is worth watching . As proof of what is happening see how much wood is kicking about round Brandon. Dear old Germaine is well past her sell by date and should be put out to pasture , about 100 miles north of Alice Springs.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Why take any notice what she says, she will say anything to get in the papers. Just another non-celebrity in need of publicity because she been all forgotten about

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    Terry Smith

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Why do we still bother to listen to Germaine Greer? If we ignored her she would just sink away and be forgotten. Her views are with the small minority - she's just trying to wind us up - doesn't work on me i am afraid.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • This is poor journalism on the part of the EDP. We have a "clickbait" headline designed to provoke readers into a response. Someone on here who listened to the interview with Germaine Greer has provided some balance. Not long ago the EDP was promoting its role as a part of a free press, which is all well and good. What is actually needed is a responsible press. The responsible approach regarding Greer's interview would have been to report what she actually did say rather than take a remark out of context. More often than not I find a far more balanced account of goings on in the comments section than from the articles written b supposedly professional journalists.

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    Suffolk Exile

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I ngo -the government has already indicted that funding for farming will continue much along the lines it does at present. Every time somebody mentions their own field of interest they ask how it will be funded after br exit. Simple fact is that all the amounts of money the EU"gives" anyone in the UK, whether it's farming, food science, university grants, environmental schemes, infrastructure and everything else is only a portion of what the UK pays to the EU. In general terms, we give them lots of money, they give half of it back. After Brexit we'll be able to fund everything in the UK that the EU currently funds and have money spare. Hope that helps, but I suspect you're not listening.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Thank you T Doff, for providing the balance. So Timberman she is more than qualified to make her comments, irrespective of whether you agree with them. All the EDP needs to do now is bring forth these outraged volunteers and local residents, as they only interviewed one person. Who hadn't heard the interview. I've seen the debate before regarding the habitats that were there before the forest was planted, I suppose the argument would only stand up if these habitats were destroyed, or simply moved elsewhere. The forest certainly breaks up square miles of similar landscape so it may have moved. It's all hypothetical anyway as no one is going to fell Thetford Forest.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Many valid arguments have been already mentioned, where does this inate belief come from that you have to promote a story with the most outrageous comment, then twist it some and purport that you are speaking for the wider majority in East Anglia? Why are newspapers always trying to promote such C list celebrity comments by amplifying the worst possible aspect of the story. It was an interview given to the farming community, ecological issues have been mentioned, but what will happen to farming after Brexit, when farmers can only rely on the benefits of ecological schemes, without being funded for them? will they plough everything up to maximise profits with unsustainable farming methods? or will they promote larger hedgerows, wider margin top encourage birds and other beneficial insects for which they receive EU funding now?

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • I did actually listen to the interview, as I wake daily to the Shipping Forecast and Farming Today. I think Ms. Greer was trying to make the point mentioned by Green Ink; namely, that the forest is in large part a man-made creation which has superseded what went before, and perhaps not to great benefit. @Timberman - she has "form" with forestry in Australia, but in a good way. She purchased some 150 acres of it in Queensland, which she is reviving, rehabilitating and preserving for the future. As with most of her utterances, Ms. Greer doesn't beat about the bush or stand on niceties, which may or may not appeal to her audiences.

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    T Doff

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Maybe the EDP would like to enlighten us to the conversation leading upto the comment ? or would that be so sensational !

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Yes, Dan, I too would like to hear the full extent of the argument rather than picking out one statement on its own. Let's face it, most of Thetford Forest is post WW1 created and mostly pine trees which aren't that great for wildlife. That picture at the top is not typical. I suspect that wherever the pine is felled it is not replaced with similar species but with more natural ones for this part of the country. I notice when the great god of the motor car comes into the picture all that concern for the environment suddenly gets forgotten.

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    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • Ms Greer has to make these stupid and obnoxious comments in order to keep her profile in the public domain. If we just simply ignored her she would soon fade away. Why do we give these sort of people the time of day? I bet she would soon object if we suggested cutting down the Jarrah or Karri forests in her native Australia.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

  • An interesting debate. The Forest is man made after all. However the EDP failed spectacularly to offer a balanced article. I'm sure Ms Greer has more to say during the interview that may have even answered the question in the final paragraph. However the writer doesn't bother to give the details, instead offer just one side. And just what has the fact that she's a prominant feminist got to do with this? If feminists hate forests or something then maybe it's relevant, if not then it doesn't need mentioning.

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    Monday, March 20, 2017

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