Sherwood Forest - something is lurking in the undergrowth this spring
The Department for Rural Affairs, DEFRA, has now confirmed it is to launch a 12 week consultation on proposals to sell off part of the woodland owned by the Forestry Commission. And that's raised doubts over historic woodland in the heart of Nottinghamshire, once the legendary home of Robin Hood no less.
The prospect of the government offloading this woodland and its 3,300 acres to new owners worries some, including Paddy Tipping, a former Sherwood MP and now Vice-President of the Ramblers Association.
"I think the big players will come in, buy the forest and destroy it. My fear is that we'll lose a really valuable asset, " he told me.
John Peck is the type of residents' leader that DEFRA wants to interest in running the forest. One idea is to transfer the ownership to a community co-operative or social enterprise. He's a member of the parish council in the nearby village of Edwinstowe and remains unconvinced by DEFRA's plans.
Major Oak, Robin Hood's legendary hideaway, isn't in the government's sights. Its woodland is privately owned by the Thoresby Estate and leased to Nottinghamshire county council as a visitor attraction. The target is woodland run by the Forestry Commission.
Sherwood's current MP, Mark Spencer, is a Conservative and hugely supportive of DEFRA's thinking.
"I would like to see organisations like the National Trust and the Woodland Trust to be able to run the forest because I trust them far more than any government or a local authority," he says."I think this is a massive opportunity. Opponents are playing mischief. In Britain, 82% of woodland is in private hands and yet look at all the public footpaths. They are on private land. Public ascess is no problem."
If there's something unexpected stirring in Sherwood Forest this spring, it's likely to be government's consultation... and the reverberations of its plans for the Forestry Commission.