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

IN a small public garden in Tallinn, Estonia, there’s a statue of Sir Sean Connery.

It stands alongside sculpted tributes to Robert Burns and Alexander Fleming and can take the unsuspecting Scottish interloper quite by surprise.

There is a story behind it. At the time Estonia achieved independence from the Soviet Union, Scotch whisky was seen as the ultimate status symbol, leading to Scotland and its famous figures becoming similarly revered, to the point where clubs and parks became dedicated to the Scots. 

As a Scot, it’s quite something to see your cultural iconography so honoured, when at home most seem embarrassed by it (the so-called ‘Scottish cringe’).

They do say travel broadens the mind. It certainly offers new perspectives. Recent trips abroad with journalists from other countries (you can read more about them in the following pages) have enlightened me to a lot that’s happening beyond our shores.

Mortgage rates skyrocketing in Finland? I had no idea. Unions calling for a four-day week in Germany? News to me.

As well as exposing my ignorance to recent world events, it’s been interesting to gather the thoughts of our European neighbours on the UK. And while the mention of Brexit continues to illicit baffled smiles and shakes of the head, on the subject of forestry we still command respect.

While at home, many are in a near-constant state of anxiety over where this sector’s headed, abroad it enjoys a reputation for exceptional standards and remains a highly-prized market.

Not that I think anyone is wrong to be concerned. Hopefully next month’s Confor policy conference will offer a workable strategy for the road ahead, and soon those working within UK forestry will be able to hold their heads high, viewing their industry with the same esteem as those outside it.