DEAR editor,

A great day out at the Confor Woodland Show... or was it?

The sun shone, the chippers chipped, we met up with old friends and a great day was had by all. But just stop to think... why were we all there, making or having made our living from the UK forestry industry?

Answer: Because somebody before us (either in the private sector or public enterprises) had the forethought to plant and manage trees for over a century or so!
So what about the future? BIG, BIG PROBLEM.

Yes, there will be a few trees to be harvested and probably, very sadly, loads and loads of ash to be felled, but where will the future wood resource come from?

In all of my 50-plus years in the forestry industry, I have never known a better time to plant trees. You know all of the well-rehearsed arguments.

So when do we get started? I know that Scotland is above its target for new planting, but when you take into account the amount of diseased ash trees to be felled, I would suggest that the number/volume of wood per hectare/acre of land surfaces under trees/woodland/forestry in the UK is actually reducing, to be under our current measly 13 per cent.

So what can I – and you, for that matter – do about it? Put your head above the parapet and let’s see a real step change in the area of UK forest and woodland.

I suggest 18 per cent by 2050. 

Any takers?

Andy Chalmers, Managing Director
Melcourt Industries Ltd, Tetbury, Gloucestershire GL8 8RT