Time to Move on for Forestry Commentary

A wee debate played out on tweeter following this article: Urgent incentives needed for forests in Scotland.

There was for me, as an ex private sector forester working in Scotland, much sense to the article, which was apparently paid by Confor to be in the Scotsman newspaper. We have to be planting to ensure the longevity of the forest industry itself. It is a shame that such a valuable opinion  piece by a leading forest academic needed a financial incentive for a newspaper, (a newspaper in a country with such strong links to forestry), to publish. During the PFE disposal furore it seemed any celebrity or political commentator could see their opinion published no matter how much at odds with reality their comments were.

As for the debate, opinion solely based from a ‘conservation’ angle, whilst independently correct and with wonderful objectives is not just unrealistic in the present economic climate but ignores an industry who largely agree – but do need timber also to make it happen. We now have a firmly established system of multipurpose and sustainable forest management installed in the methods of all private sector foresters and now virtually all private forest owners also – why ignore this?

And sadly it is still evident that a widely proferred opinion during the PFE disposal furore is still very much in play – despite considerable efforts to redress. Far too many people are at least 20 years behind in what they believe to be modern forestry and particularly the main goals of the FC.

The dinosaurs of the industry have all almost gone, thank goodness. And I remember all too clearly how bad the situation was, being told once by an ‘old school’ forester whilst stood in an ASNW remnant in Cornwall that the only way forward was to under plant with Sitka Spruce.

I am firm believer, with many others, that we need to keep discussing forestry to progress, and will never exhaust ourselves. but to do so we can do without dismissal of valuable opinion, indeed further suggesting it is wrong to publish, simply because it may not fit with their own opinion. When the public forestry sector is silenced it is fundamentally wrong to ignore the private forestry sector also who have not fallen into the sickening PR driven ‘tea partyesque’ commentary that actually attracts press attention as their land management counterparts the CLA and NFU have done so.

Forestry and Arboriculture can lead the way for land management both in practice and policy – let it do so.


Multi purpose forestry stretching beyond the horizon. Drôme, France


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