This piece is an extract from this week'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.

REGULAR readers of these newsletters will have noticed several topics cropping up that all seem to point to the same thing; it's bloody difficult to convince people to take up a job in forestry. Whether it's tree planters, nursery staff, or operators, they all say the same. Even when they do manage to get someone in the door, the worry of them doing an about-turn back through it (think Grampa Simpson in that meme) remains. 

Anyone whose passion is timber and trees will be aware of the difficulties in both finding and retaining staff. Report after report has found the sector will have to plug staffing shortages before the decade is out (some estimates have this in the thousands), while even the forestry minister has recently warned there aren't enough foresters to look after England's woodlands. 

READ MORE: EFRA tree planting report 2022: 300 woodland creation roles must be filled by 2025

But in many ways, the whole scenario seems most alarming in the harvesting side of things. Why is this? Some point to forestry's lack of recognition. Others blame Brexit and Covid (which definitely should shoulder some of it). But when you boil it down and speak to people on the ground, the cold hard facts seem to be money – or a lack of it – is to blame. 

Forestry Journal:

Several jobs in recent years have offered a salary of under £30,000 for an experienced operator, and often it's been closer to £25,000. Let's put that in perspective. According to Indeed, that's less than what the Forestry Commission pays a marketing manager. It's also less than someone could earn as a tree surgeon (up to £38,000, the UK government estimates) or arboricultural officer (up to £40,000). You'd even rake in more cash doing carpentry (up to £38,000).

To be clear, that's not to suggest any of those jobs – or the numerous others that pay better – should have their wages reduced, but rather those are the kind of figures that would seem far fairer for operators. 

Let's take a quick look at a recent discussion on Bites from the Blog, which really got to the heart of the issue. Comments from operators included: 

"Young people would be foolish to think they have a good future in logging." 

"It just shows how out of touch they are, and need to realise that people that can operate machinery to a high standard are worth considerably more than pen pushers and are a lot harder to come by." 

Forestry Journal:

"I always wanted to come into the forestry industry, but it’s the wages that kept stopping me!" 

Forestry is always being told how important it is, and the need for the UK to reduce its reliance on imported timber remains a priority – we're told – of every level of government. The thing is, forestry only happens because of the people involved at every single cog on the wheel. 

This debate is nothing new. A quick look in the Forestry Journal archives tells you the very same arguments have been made repeatedly over the last few decades. 

Isn't it time something was done about them?