Our readers have had their say on a number of issues, including a recent debate between one of our writers and Confor. 

Dear editor,

The ongoing spat between Tanarus and Confor stimulates some interesting thoughts about why UK commercial forestry never gets a fair crack of the whip, whether from politicians or the people.

Clearly it is politicians who should show the way for the people, but environment secretaries and forestry ministers come and go like migratory birds, with insufficient time to do anything worthwhile.

Each new arrival is fawned over even before they have uttered a word, and when they do, and words like ‘tree’ and ‘wood’ pass their lips, the industry goes into raptures about what a good job they are doing. That’s the low expectation level we have sunk to.


I recall being asked to go to a Confor conference just after the UK government aborted its plans to sell off the forest estate. On the invite list were representatives from the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties as well as the forestry minister at the time. I think Confor wanted to learn if there were any intentions to try again at some point in the future.

I can’t recall the personalities involved, which is probably just as well. However, I do remember how the forestry minister didn’t show up – clearly to the annoyance of the lead Confor speaker, although he was very polite – indeed too polite – about his no-show guest. 

However, the minister did send a video of himself standing in the middle of woodland, telling the audience how he could “see everything so clearly”. And when you read his accompanying blurb you understood exactly why – because he was trained and qualified in ophthalmic optometry. I didn’t hold back and included this in my report. It was duly published in Forestry Journal, but had apparently been sent to Confor first. When asked if they would try to sell off the forest estate in future, the Conservative MP at the meeting said “not in this parliament”, which I took as a yes.

That paragraph mysteriously disappeared from my report. Never mind. That was the last time I was asked to cover such an event.

From where I stand, politicians overseeing forestry are let off too lightly. There is much too much mutual backslapping and glad handing with those at the top of the tree, while those on the forest floor continually get their butts kicked. 

I have always found Tanarus thought provoking, ever since the days when we both contributed to Forestry & British Timber over 20 years ago. That publication was suddenly put on the market in 2008, snapped up by the owner of Forest Machine Journal and the two combined gave us today’s Forestry Journal.

Dr Terry Mabbett

Dear editor,

Forestry England (FJ issue 352, ‘Letters to the Editor’) replied to John Jackson’s letter (FJ issue 350) when he questioned the maths behind the tennis court scaling used for the Warren Heath wildfire area.

While writing in a semi-comical tone ending with a witty “game, set and match” is all fun and games – and I don’t dispute the maths – it doesn’t really override the embarrassment that one of the largest forestry organisations in the UK, which makes tens of millions of pounds in harvesting, car parking and recreation income to name but a few, can think that it is somehow dignified to launch charity appeals.

It would be laughable and bad taste for private landowners to lay their cap on the floor for us to throw coppers into and I feel it even more so of state forestry!

Owen König

Dear editor,

The majority of your readers will be much more clever than me.

Can somebody please tell me the effect on our beleaguered industry the imposition of import tariffs on timber would have?

Is it not better to pull a chain rather than push it?

Yours in anticipation of being shot down,

Richard Milton