MOMENTS before writing this newsletter I was struggling for inspiration. I couldn't decide whether to lead on Interforst 2022 (and all the amazing things Forestry Journal saw in Munich), plans to fell every larch tree from Phytophthora ramorum's UK epicentre, or even news three people lost their lives in forestry work-related incidents over the last 12 months. 

That was until I glanced out the window of my home office and the wheels started turning. Standing a little over 100 yards in the distance, just beyond several rows of Identikit houses, is a grassy mound, installed as part of extensive renovation works when the area was transformed from a Boots warehouse into suburbia. Like all good residential green space, it features paths to walk the dog and trees in the ground. All-in-all it seems perfect and, in a world increasingly determined to force artificial turf/plants/and shrubbery on homeowners, it's an easy way to enjoy a stroll in nature.

Scratch just a little below the surface and the sheen suddenly wears off. You'll notice that out of the scores of trees that were planted around a decade ago, few have blossomed. Most have barely grown above their shelters, and a worryingly large number have all but rotted. If we're lucky, maybe five trees will live long, fulfilling lives. 

Herein lies one of the major problems with the country's current rush to put as many trees in the ground as possible.

Forestry Journal:

That's all well and good (and no one is doubting the sincerity and intention of the trend), but it's ultimately a fruitless endeavour if few of the trees we're planting in the thousands actually make it to 'adulthood'. The real issue is that once the soil has been dug and the photos taken, too many are happy to let fate manage the rest. Simply put; we just don't have enough people to manage trees through their whole life-cycle, ensuring as many as possible can thrive. 

This was brought into focus this week by a story from England. Like many, Gloucester City Council is desperate to plant more trees and is out to hire a dedicated tree officer to do so. But, despite months of searching, it hasn't found anyone willing to take on the role. 

The reason for this, the council say, is the current job market. However, by its officers' admission, the salary and description are being urgently reviewed and, at the time of writing, the posting is no longer on the council's website. 

This sorry saga seems to sum it up; tree officers – or anyone in a similar field – remain an afterthought, something a council or organisation feels it has to do rather than one it ploughs proper resources into. A quick glance at the FJ's socials under this story will tell you many who have enjoyed (or rather, endured) time as a tree officer felt undervalued, underpaid, and overworked. 

A tree officer should be as important as any other environmental role. We just need to realise this before our planting endeavours go to waste. 

This piece is an extract from today’s Forestry Latest News newsletter, which is emailed out at 4PM every Friday with a round-up of the week's top stories. 

To receive our full, free newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here