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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A QUICK glance at my Forestry Journal wall planner tells me today is April 5. As I write this, the rain lashes down while the wind cries an almighty howl. Everything suggest I've misread that date but a second look confirms that, no, it's not mid-winter, it is definitely mid-spring. Not that you'd know it. 

After a long, dry summer, and a harsh, wet winter (which also had its fair share of snow in places), the spring of 2024 has hardly brought the respite many were hoping for. The rain has showed no signs of stopping, the wind has barely died down, and the elements have conspired to see forestry come unstuck at every opportunity. 

There will be few (if any) contractors, especially those working with larger machines, who haven't had to admit defeat at some point in recent months as a result of the weather. It won't be the same for everyone – and, clearly, many are able to get the job done, in spite of the conditions – but even in recent weeks FJ has heard of operators shutting up shop and heading home for the day, the mud simply too thick and too tricky to overcome. 

At a time when budgets are tight and margins are even tighter – not least for one-man bands or small-scale operations – it's not been the start to 2024 many were hoping for. 

Today's date is also a timely reminder that we're into the final few laps of the planting season. Fighting against the elements, supply issues, and continued uncertainty around the future of the industry (especially in Scotland), the wider sector remains indebted to the UK's planters. Underpaid and underappreciated, forestry simply wouldn't exist at its current size and scale without them. 

Forestry Journal: Will the UK hit its tree-planting target? Probably not, but that's through no fault of the planters Will the UK hit its tree-planting target? Probably not, but that's through no fault of the planters (Image: Getty/stock)

While some will continue into April and maybe even beyond – a frightening prospect for foresters – others will be winding down, having earned a period of rest. 

Whether or not this has been a successful planting season will be known soon enough. If it's filed under the latter again, that won't be on account of the nation's tree planters. 

Or just about anybody inside forestry for that matter.