Conservation and recreation: forest recreation can be profitable.
In 1938 the Forestry Commission suggested 'that typical areas in some of the Commission's forests should be unplanted and reserved for ecological studies' (Forestry Commission 1938: 22). The British Ecological Society agreed and the Commission's wild life and conservation policy was launched. It lapsed during the war, but in 1947 it was announced that in the Forest Parks 'attention is given to the conservation of natural resources... and throughout the area wild life is protected' (Forestry Commission 1947: 15). In 1964 a new post of Wild Life Officer was established. As in the case of landscape design, an advisory booklet was published, on Wildlife Conservation in Woodlands (Forestry Commission 1972). In 1978 the Nature Conservancy Council and the Natural Environment Research Council published a review of sites of biological importance, which included 6% of all Commission land, most of it already protected by 'management plans of one kind or another' (Forestry Commission 1978: 17) . It is good that existing value should be protected but the Commission should also create new wild life habitats. They would compensate for the fauna and flora which are lost when afforestation takes place.
It was estimated that the number of 'visits by the public' to Commission land rose from 15m to 24m between 1969 and 1979 (Forestry Commission 1969, 1979). For 1984ï¾5 it was reported that ,5.3m was spent on recreation and ,0.8m was received in income. The money was used to provide for 'some 50 different activities' (Forestry Commission 1965: 24, 99).
Since 1970 the Commission has been engaged in developing chalet sites which are let out for holidays [Fig 8.18]. Forest workers houses and other surplus buildings have also been converted for recreational use. They earned a 10.8% return on capital, which compares very favourably with the 3% target rate of return on forestry itself (Forestry Commission 1983: 102). In future the Commission could encourage the development of second homes, retirement homes, hotels and other types of property development. Buildings, together with water, vegetation and landform, constitute one of main elements of landscape design. When well designed and located they make a positive contribution to the scenery ï¾ as castles, cottages, farms and country houses have often done in the past. The use of timber is appropriate but there is no need whatsoever for all forest buildings to resemble log cabins. Nor is there any British design precedent for this style of architecture.