RECENTLY I was asked to name one big issue preventing forestry in Scotland from reaching its full potential.

I don’t typically enjoy being put on the spot like that, having to take a position (when I’d much rather strive for neutrality). But the answer I gave was: ‘Lack of communication’.

What I really wanted to say was: ‘People aren’t writing enough letters to Forestry Journal’. But ‘lack of communication’ is broadly the same thing.


And I think it’s not a problem limited to Scotland but is endemic in all sectors of forestry across the UK. Forestry is not an industry united, heading on a decisive course. It is made up of multiple parts with different priorities, many of them in direct conflict with each other. And if we don’t talk about those conflicts we can’t overcome them.

Decisions at the top are taken which have severe consequences, but little by way of explanation is offered. On the ground, grievances are held but not aired for fear of repercussions.

Forestry Journal: The list has been produced by experts from across Europe

There are many, I’m sure, who just want to keep their heads down and keep working away like they’ve always done. But forestry will change one way or the other and if you’re not willing to voice your thoughts on the form that change should take, you risk being left behind.

Respect is due to those from all different sectors making efforts to break down barriers and get people talking. 

It’s been said that trees talk to each other. If so, they probably make a better job of it than most foresters.

This article originally appeared as John McNee's Letter from the Editor in Forestry Journal's April 2024 edition.