The following first appeared as John McNee's Letter from the Editor in Forestry Journal's December 2023 edition.

AND so farewell Thérèse Coffey, we hardly knew you.

The ninth Conservative environment secretary to have held the post in the last 13 years was appointed in October 2022 soon after Rishi Sunak became PM and has now been dismissed as part of the reshuffle sparked by the sacking of home secretary Suella Braverman.

At least I think that’s what happened. It’s hard to keep up.


Either way, Ms Coffey’s tenure lasted little more than a year. If you were working in forestry over that period there’s every likelihood you achieved more for the environment that she did. Some will call that harsh criticism, but others… won’t.

While the former environment secretary made little to no mention of forestry during her barnstorming speeches about bendy bananas, green zealots and fake meat (at least not that we could find), at least forestry minister Trudy Harrison made an effort. She talked a good game with her expressed desire to take a chainsaw to red tape around planting.

Alas, she too has now departed, before any of her encouraging words could be backed up with action. Have we been here before? It all feels terribly familiar.
Steve Barclay is the name of the new environment secretary. The name of the new forestry minister, at the time of going to press, had not been shared with us. Perhaps the UK government, taking pity on us, thinks it hardly worth our time trying to learn it.

How long will the incomers last? Word on the street is a general election’s likely to be held in May or October next year, unless circumstances force one sooner.

Forestry Journal: Trudy Harrison also departed in the recent reshuffle Trudy Harrison also departed in the recent reshuffle

How much good can any environment secretary or forestry minister be expected to achieve for the industry in that time? If they even last that long? Perhaps the PM, under pressure from the right of his party, will fancy another reshuffle before too long?

If so, might we suggest a good time for that would be 2nd February, commonly known across the pond as Groundhog Day?

Just don’t go making any announcements over Christmas. 

We’ll be off!