CERTAIN words can lose all impact if repeated often enough.

I’m sure there was a time when the media, sharing news of a ‘damning’ new report from government, could be assured it would cause some small sensation.

Now, who would notice? Isn’t just about every report to come out of Westminster ‘damning’? The word no longer carries the weight it once did.

READ MORE: MPs: 'Little evidence' of clear vision for UK's timber industry

I’m writing this shortly after the publication of a report from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority, which has branded the HS2 rail project “unachievable”. 

It certainly would have been nice to know that before huge swathes of the countryside was destroyed in its construction, including acres of ancient woodland, prized veteran trees – not to mention the loss of tens of thousands of trees which were planted to replace them, but not watered.

The project has not been a great PR exercise for forestry, with much of the public getting their first taste of the industry through the decimation of their beloved ancient woodlands.

Forestry Journal: MPs were critical of the UK's tree-planting progress MPs were critical of the UK's tree-planting progress (Image: Scottish Forestry)

Hardly ideal at a time when we need the public behind us more than ever. But as latest reports suggest, public support for productive forestry is on the wane. And what’s more, according to the Environment Audit Committee, there is ‘little evidence’ of a clear vision for the UK’s timber industry.

One ‘damning’ verdict after another.

READ MORE: Chief 'confident' Forestry England will meet tree-planting target

I might worry more about the impact of the EAC’s report, what it says about the state of the industry and how it appears to the public, if I’d seen the story reported beyond the realm of forestry publications.

As it is, I haven’t seen it get much attention in the wider media, lending credence to the troubling notion that, when it comes to forestry, nobody really gives a damn.

This article originally appeared as John McNee's Letter from the Editor in Forestry Journal's August 2023 edition.