ASK any forester to list the problems that exist in the industry and you’d probably have to cancel any plans you had that evening. By the time they got to the end, the football would be finished, the concert long since over, and the pub ready for closing. 

That might just be because we all love a moan in forestry – and some might even argue Forestry Journal exists solely to share those complaints – but for a job that is so often so bloody brilliant, it doesn’t half have its fair share of issues. 

In recent months, FJ has featured grumbles about roads (or, more accurately, the lack of any good ones in the UK), welfare units (don’t get us started again), and working out in the cold, but there is always something new to whinge about. And often with good reason. 

READ MORE: Bites from the Blog: Forestry operators on choosing a machine

So when one of the UK’s most well-known dealers (Fuelwood) asked members of the Forest Machine Operators Blog just what the biggest issues are in forestry, it was no surprise to see members let rip. 

Forestry Journal: Dale ScottDale Scott (Image: Bites)

Some replies fell under the simple but all-too-true category. “Walkers and cyclists!” said one operator. “Treehuggers,” wrote another. One responded by asking: “Where do you want to start?”

“The industry,” is how one contractor put it, and we can’t decide if this there is even any need to expand on the point. Some did, however. 

“Greedy sawmills,” replied one operator, who went on. “Lack of opportunities for training for new operators.

“Lack of education to the public about what we actually do and the risks involved.

“The lack of communication, and teamwork, between contractors and the Commission/NRW.”

It’s no secret that Joe Bloggs has about as much knowledge of what really goes on out in the woods as Rishi Sunak does about a football match (sorry to our English readers for the reminder about last month’s result), and so, predictably, others agreed that a lack of education in the wider world needs to be addressed. 

“The public needs to be educated more about sustainability and what we are really doing is helping the forest grow better and faster.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Now, if only there was a way to get that message to the masses.

Forestry Journal: Alan PrettyjohnAlan Prettyjohn (Image: Bites)

But perhaps we’d better hold off on that one, if another comment is anything to go by. We all know working in the woods is back-breaking, tiring work, but at least we enjoy it. Or at least we assumed most people in forestry did. 

“I’ve been in the woods since 1980. It’s always been pretty crap, but I made my choice and stuck with it. I would not encourage anyone really. I tried to keep my son away but failed. It’s a highly respected job in other countries, but not in UK.” 

Whether that last point is true or not – and, if you’ve read your Global Log this month, you’ll see all is not well for forestry workers Down Under – it’s always dispiriting to read comments like this. But we understand the industry can drive you to the point of madness. 

Forestry Journal: Jamie RobertsonJamie Robertson (Image: Bites)

What can also drive you potty is the public’s disregard for your hard work. It all goes back to that lack of knowledge, but, as several posts on the blog last month showed, there appears to be a worrying trend of beautifully-stacked timber logs being seen as fair game. 

“Not sure who this belongs to,” wrote one worried member, sharing a screenshot from a Facebook group of firewood enthusiasts. “On the Isle of Wight from what I gather. Looks like someone is giving your timber away.” 

Understandably, this led to uproar in the comments. 

“That’s wrong and in so many ways. If you drive up and see a wood pile like that somebody’s put time and effort into doing that, they’re not going to do that just for free.

Forestry Journal: Mark RichardsonMark Richardson (Image: Bites)

“They didn’t do that because they were bored. They did that because either somebody hired them to do it and they’re trying to make a living or they own it themselves. Either way whoever is selling this on Facebook is doing a very bad thing.” 

Other comments included: 

“Loads of thieves on here.”


“Is this still available?”

We’re almost 100 per cent sure the last member had his tongue placed firmly in his cheek when he typed that out, but God loves a trier. There were, of course, many other messages posted on the thread, but there’s no place for them in a family publication. But rest assured a word beginning with C was frequently spotted. 

Forestry Journal: Robert Meirion OwenRobert Meirion Owen (Image: Bites)

At least we got a happy ending when the owner of the logs commented to say he had been in touch and sorted out the issue. Phew! 

But that’s not always the case. 

A similar post was shared from another firewood group on social media, with the operator writing:

“As a rule it’s a fairly harmless group, but every now and again someone posts pictures and whereabouts of someone’s timber stacks and advertises them as free.” (Don’t we know it)

This post led to an outpouring from members who had experienced the theft of their own timber. 

“Had a load of birch ordered couple of years back, but was stolen before the lorry could lift it.”

Forestry Journal: Robert DaviesRobert Davies (Image: Bites)

“On Islay people think it’s okay to help themselves when companies are cutting timber.” 

Right, that’s about enough complaining for one issue. 

Let’s end with a dose of cuteness. Thanks to the member shared a picture of his dog that he’s trained to carry fuel cans on site. Good for the back, and even better for the soul. 

But as one member noted: “Just hope he doesn’t bury it!” 

Keep an eye on the latest chat on the Forest Machine Operators Blog on Facebook.