YOU can tell the time of year by the symptoms. Fatigued? Dehydrated? Sunburnt? Slightly hungover? Must be show season.

I write this having just returned from four days at the Royal Highland Show, which followed hot on the heels of a trip to Stockholm for the first Swedish Forestry Expo.

Though they shared some exhibitors, these were two very different events indeed – one targeting large-scale, professional forestry, the other tailored more to agriculture and the general public (you can find coverage of both in this issue).

READ MORE: First-ever Swedish Forestry Expo hailed a resounding success

An interesting (i.e. challenging) part of exhibiting at the Royal Highland Show is fielding questions from people with no forestry background. These run the gamut from the fairly typical to the perplexingly obscure, but naturally Forestry Journal is expected to have all the answers.

“What’s the price of timber right now?”, “Can you get a licence to take away trees that have fallen on public land?”, “What trees should I plant that aren’t going to be destroyed by pests and disease?”, “Can you recommend a good tree surgeon in the Aviemore area?”

Then there’s the classic: “How do I get into forestry?”

With our stand positioned in full view of Ponsse’s pitch, it wasn’t uncommon to have a young person approach, point to the Mammoth or Scorpion Giant and ask: “How do I get a job driving that?”

It’s a fair question, though not an easy one to answer. In this issue you will also find an interview with Cara Johnstone, a young machine operator whose story of how she broke into the industry is quite extraordinary – not only for her persistence but for the fact she was able to find an established contractor willing to give her a chance with no forestry background.

I’m sure there are many more talented would-be operators out there and many contractors who would benefit from bringing them on board. As for how to get them together? That’s a question that still leaves me stumped.

This article originally appeared in John McNee's Letter from the Editor in Forestry Journal, July 2023.