I KNOW I must be terribly naïve.

Until only a few years ago, I would never have imagined anyone could have been outraged by the planting of trees. I thought there could be no activity which could attract less controversy than woodland creation. I assumed everyone was in agreement that this was a good thing.

Recent activity on the Forestry Journal Facebook page has highlighted how foolish such an assumption was.

‘Pic of the Day’ sounds just like what it is. We encourage readers to submit their pics and, each day, we pick a favourite and post it. If it’s a picture of forest machinery, hand cutting or a big stack of timber, we can be assured of a few likes and comments, but nothing surprising.

However, if we post an image of a field on which some tree planting is underway, the response is … eye-opening, to say the least.

“This is nothing short of madness!”, “Can’t understand why they need to plant perfectly good agricultural ground!”, “We need to be planting food not trees!”, “This level of stupidity is mind boggling!”, “A disgrace!”, “Heart-breaking!”, “You should be ashamed of yourselves for planting on good agricultural land!”

Again, perhaps it’s my naïvety, but I still find it a bit shocking to see those creating woodland labelled “a disgrace”. These are genuine comments from (one assumes) genuine farmers whose response to seeing land put to a use other than food or pasture is apoplectic rage (and let’s not even get into the vociferous comments on plastic tree shelters and biodiversity).

Some, including myself, have speculated in recent issues about the prospect of the country’s tree-planting ambitions clashing with concerns about food security. It seems, at least on social media, the battle is already underway and many have decided where they stand – and it’s not on the side of forestry. Considering we need farmers on-side to meet our planting and net-zero goals, that’s a concern.