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

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DOES anyone really want to work in forestry? 

That might seem like a strange question for an industry magazine to ask (for the record, we love it), but the week's events have had us wondering that very thing.

What began with the launch of free training courses became a warning over England's lack of foresters, which in turn led to fevered discussion about whether or not the sector is an attractive place to be. 

READ MORE: Shortage of foresters prompts warning from forestry minister

Dip your toes in the social media reaction – which, admittedly, is not the most advisable course at the best of times – to Trudy Harrison's suggestion there aren't enough workers to manage the country's woodlands and it would appear many think no, no one wants to work in forestry. 

Comments from readers included: 

"Because forestry is the hardest, s******, most dangerous of jobs and it pays less than McDonald's. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone!"

"It will stay that way so long as the sawmills and major forestry operators have a monopoly. I’ve been cutting for nearly 30 years, training for the last 10. 98 per cent of the people I train want to go into arb, the other 2 per cent are already involved in forestry or have access to woodland to manage on their own farms. NO ONE wants to work in forestry because the work is hard and the pay is s***." 

Forestry Journal: Trudy Harrison, the forestry minister, said there aren't enough foresters in England to manage the country's woodlands Trudy Harrison, the forestry minister, said there aren't enough foresters in England to manage the country's woodlands (Image: Stock image)

"It’s alright throwing money at training but where are the decent wages that are going to keep cutters in the industry?" 

Another reader pointed out that coppicers are "consistently forgotten, despite being a vital lynchpin for various industries, such as thatching". 

"There aren’t enough woodsman to manage what we have. Planning laws and a homogenous society have contributed to the near death of the coppice industry which is on life support. The forestry minister needs to get creative." 

Warnings over forestry's lack of jobs – or, for that matter, lack of attraction – are nothing new. The Institute of Chartered Foresters said in November 2021 that the sector faced a shortfall of 10,000 trained staff. Elsewhere, the Forestry Skills Forum’s Forestry Workforce Research analysis, published in 2021, found that England will need to fill around 2,500 roles by 2030 and Wales just shy of 500. Just last year, members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee called on DEFRA to fill 300 woodland creation roles by 2025.

But what have industry figures said? 

Jeff Haines, founder of Dragon Equipment, told FJ at APF 2022: “People entering the industry now aren’t prepared to put themselves through the same level of physical torture as previous generations, so it’s getting harder to recruit." 

Louise Simpson, executive director of the ICF, said: “The industry is under huge pressure but the workforce is chronically under-resourced and there is an acute shortage of skills." 

Perhaps our own writer and forester Danny Graham summed up the current situation best when he wrote last year: "No one wants to be associated with jobs at the bottom of the ladder. Every one appears to want to be a manager but without putting in the hard yards first. In forestry there is a shortage of workers across all aspects of the industry. From hand cutters to tree planters, wagon drivers to sawmill workers and machine operators, the list goes on." 

So, does anyone want to work in forestry? The rewards are going to have to match the efforts for that answer to become an obvious yes.