YOU might have noticed but there was a small gathering in Glasgow last month. 

World leaders – including US President Joe Biden – and thousands of delegates met in the city for a climate change summit and trees were high on the agenda. 

“These great teeming ecosystems – these cathedrals of nature – are the lungs of our planet,” is how Prime Minister Boris Johnson described them as a pledge was made to halt and reverse deforestation and land degradation by 2030. “Forests support communities, livelihoods and food supply, and absorb the carbon we pump into the atmosphere. They are essential to our very survival.

READ MORE: Bites from the Blog November 2021: An Absorbing discussion

“With today’s unprecedented pledges, we will have a chance to end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian.”

Forestry Journal: Billy Balla Billy Balla

It’s hoped this promise will be one of the lasting legacies of COP26 in Glasgow. But back in the real world things aren’t so simple and it’s foresters and arb contractors – who else? – who are bearing the brunt of the general public’s misunderstanding of the difference between sustainable forestry and deforestation. 

Forestry Journal: Brad Speed Brad Speed

We’ve all seen the posts on local Facebook groups and read the stories in the mainstream press: angry people pictured in newspapers with their arms folded next to a space where dying trees have been legally, safely, and sustainably removed. 

Forestry Journal: Bryce Millet Bryce Millet

That’s been the talk of the Forest Machine Operators Blog this month, which was sparked by a powerful and timely video from Martyn Neve, a contractor in Lincolnshire, who worries promises made at COP will lead to more abuse of people just doing their jobs. 

Sharing a clip from a site, he said: “Just sitting on a machine today thinking about the COP26 announcement about the ending of tree felling and I am just expecting a raft of bullshit over the next few months wherever we go.

Forestry Journal: David Brown David Brown

“We will be felling timber because it’s what we do. It’s sustainable. It’s consumed. It locks up carbon. 

“What we do is sustainable. All the products we are cutting here for sawmills. There’s agricultural fencing posts we are cutting. 

Forestry Journal: Dean DockrayDean Dockray

“There’s a heap down there that’s going to be made into chipboard and again will lock up carbon. It’s an ongoing cycle. I am not overly educated on the subject but that’s my narrative. I just know we are going to be in for a raft of bullshit.” 

Unsurprisingly, Martyn’s words really struck a chord with bloggers. 

One member replied: “Cheap words from expensive suits don’t add up to a sustainable future for anyone. Education is the key.” 

“It’s basically only farming, harvesting a crop then replanting again,” one user from Lincolnshire wrote. “A massive difference between harvesting and deforestation.” 

Forestry Journal: Jake Fish Jake Fish

Mark Curtis, the founder of the blog, was quick to hail Martyn as “his hero” and added: “Well said. I just can’t believe there’s been no rebuttal from the bigwigs in the industry. As an industry we are totally useless at promoting what we do.” 

Fearing Martyn’s prediction of bullshit, another contractor wrote: “Very well put Martyn. Unfortunately, I’m sure you’re right about the bullshit.

“Hopefully a few people will pick up on what you have said and a little bit will filter through to the uneducated.” 

Forestry Journal: Mark Curtis Mark Curtis

Scores of members were quick to share Martyn’s post in the hopes of spreading his message far and wide. 

Another wrote: “Well said, perfectly explained to the layman. I couldn’t agree more and I also know, as you do, we’re sustainable. We need more afforestation, of the right crops not just in the UK but worldwide – along with more educated explanations like this – I salute you, sir.” 

It wasn’t just Martyn’s words that got people talking on the blog this month and, rather aptly, an article from the mainstream press certainly had bloggers putting their heads in their hands.

Forestry Journal: Matthew Rawsthorne Matthew Rawsthorne

Sharing an ITV News report about the “outrage” of Birmingham locals after hundreds of pine trees were felled, the member simply captioned it with a face palm emoji. The trees were, of course, taken down for good reason –  to reduce the risk of fires and improve safety – but that hadn’t stopped people complaining. 

This included one local councillor quoted in the article, who said: “It’s still very upsetting and very worrying. Especially as many people liked walking in these woods and I suspect this will result in the loss of habitat for quite a number of small animals.

Forestry Journal: Mark Robinson Mark Robinson

“It is a shame that, during COP26 when the world is coming together to address climate change, all these trees had to go in one job lot. It would have seemed far better to take it down in smaller sections.” 

Members were quick to point out the madness of it all. 

“It always amazes me with these things that everyone who lives within a hundred-mile radius seems to think that you should knock on their door and ask their permission,” said one member. 

Forestry Journal: Robin Parsons Robin Parsons

Another pointed out the obvious: “All the people moaning have no idea at all. It amazes me how thick people actually are. Where do they think all their posh sheds and summerhouses and fences come from?” 

Others pointed out the daftness of the reporting. “As usual the press clutching at straws,” one replied. “This site has been set fire to three times so it was partly a health and safety decision as well as a silvicultural decision. If only our public understood that food AND fibre are products of the land.” 

Forestry Journal: Rory Scott Rory Scott

Would extending the olive branch to the general public help? One member certainly thinks so... if he was a little tongue in cheek. 

“I’d like to talk to these people, I can’t believe how thick they are, what do they think we do with the wood we produce? Where do they think the wood in their houses comes from? And if they wanted to use a different product to replace the wood, what would they use?” 

Thankfully, some members could see the funny side of things. 

Forestry Journal: Ross Lamb Ross Lamb

“Trouble is if you warn the trees the bloody things run away,” one teased, while another added: “Absolute animals! I’m going to go home and sit on my wooden chair in front of my log burner and have a good cry with a box of tissues about these trees being cut down...”

You might think this was the most daft post of recent weeks, but you’d be wrong. That prize goes to one member who returned to a job only to find an article about plans to stop deforestation stapled to his logs. Oh, and you guessed it, the article was printed on paper. 

Forestry Journal: Russell McGahan Russell McGahan

“A conscientious member of the public helpfully reminded me that we’re murdering trees,” teased the member. “Stapled to my log stack this morning on a National Trust job. Printed on paper. Which is made of wood.” 

He ended his post with a laughing emoji and that probably sums up the mood perfectly.

As do the replies. 

“That’s great, so they have now wasted some pins, plastic cover, a piece of paper, printed off their plastic/metal printer (that was made in the other side of the world) and probably drove to the car park in their big 4x4 etc etc, to tell you this pish,” one blogger put it bluntly.

Another member agreed: “Uneducated tossers, don’t understand the difference between the natural environment and a sustainable forest industry.” 

Forestry Journal: Stefan Ursu Stefan Ursu

A Cumbria-based blogger joked about taking action: “That would be like a red rag to me.

I’d refuse to wear clothes, smear myself in sap and dance on the log stacks until they were too frightened bother me again.” 

Others also saw the funny side of things. One wrote: “That was very kind of them to make sure you had plenty of toilet paper.” 

READ MORE: Bites from the blog: On a learning curve

We’ll leave the last word to the member who shared the picture as he revealed he was hardly lighting up cigars with £5 notes when the job was done. 

Forestry Journal: Steve Hope Steve Hope

“All we’re doing is an unprofitable thinning operation on a large parkland wood. No one is making much, if any, money out of it, but the end result is lovely. Some forestry detractors seem to think that trees are made of solid gold.” 

Head over to the Forest Machine Operators Blog to share your view.