Forestry Journal:

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

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THIS was supposed to be a relatively cheery column to end a tough year on. Then Shona Robison took to Holyrood and slashed more than £30 million from public forestry's budget in a move that would have had even Mr Potter ushering the deputy first minister aside and reminding her it's Christmas. 

The fact this cut came just days after foresters left with a spring in their step following the Woodland Creation Summit made it all the more painful. On that day in Perth, government officials had expressed genuine (at least that's how it appeared at the time) concern for the current woes of the industry, talking up their determination to fix things. But as one contractor put it in the wake of the announcement: "Was it all just a waste of time?" 


Perhaps the most striking admission in the aftermath came from rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon in her exclusive column for Forestry Journal in which she admitted the total budget for woodland creation would barely cover the costs of 9,000 hectares, which again seems to be a case of one of the UK's governments telling forestry one thing but delivering another. 

This is supposed to be a time of hope, a time for believing the future will have brighter days in store. Given forestry is already in such a perilous position - with 2023 described by many of our readers as 'a f****** s***show' - it feels pretty difficult to have much in the way of hope for the sector right now as it navigates increasingly stormy seas. 

Forestry Journal: Mairi Gougeon had hinted at a difficult budget for forestry during the Woodland Creation Summit Mairi Gougeon had hinted at a difficult budget for forestry during the Woodland Creation Summit (Image: Supplied)

A final thought for the Scottish Forestry staff, who, through no fault of their own, will be the ones thrown to the frontline with a black hole in their budget, facing the brunt of frustrations.

Hopefully, Christmas will provide a time of rest for them and everyone in forestry.