Who noticed tree planting and woodland creation disappeared from the radar screen during the long, hot summer? Government tree-planting propaganda previously plastered all over the national press was suddenly conspicuous by its absence. Of course, nobody in their right mind would plant trees in summer, especially when temperatures are topping 40 degrees centigrade, but the unfolding situation appears to be a lot more sinister than that. 

Before getting the old heave-ho in early July, Boris bonked the Landscape Recovery Scheme, thereby taking the axe to large nature restoration (rewilding) projects which the UK government had claimed were “essential to achieve our environmental ambitions”. And so surreptitiously that hardly anyone noticed except The Times, which ran the headline ‘Ministers quietly abandon “green crap” as focus shifts to food security’.

Once representing the tidy sum of £800 million for farmers to transform agricultural land into forests and other nature-rich environments, the Landscape Recovery Scheme budget was summarily slashed to £50 million, with not a hiss of dissenting emission from ministers with specific responsibility for the green agenda – climate change, emissions, conservation, wildlife and the rest. Clearly a cop-out and perhaps the beginning of the end for net zero.

There followed a slanging match between two ex-government ministers vying to become Boris’s replacement, with mentions of afforestation hardly passing their lips. The only semblance of trees during the debacle of a debate was in the contestants themselves, one stiff and brittle like a Lombardy poplar and the other all over the place like ‘Old Mother Elder’. And the only thing felled was a presenter who allegedly succumbed to boredom.

Plenty of ‘F’ words flew around, including farming, food and fracking, but forestry was right off the agenda. Even the government’s tree czar stopped talking about tree planting. After previously promoting special deals on supermarket own brands, his latest wheeze is telling the public to install a water-saving device in the ‘khazi’ – time to hit the S-bend, George.

Remember the infamous comment by Ronald Reagan (40th President of the United States): “A tree is a tree – how many more do you need to look at?” Shocking yes; shocked no – because the ‘mob’ we are about to be ruled by are on the same page as ‘the Great Communicator’.

Clean off, oil up and park your tree-planting spades lads, because it looks as though you might not be in need of them in a hurry.

Dr Terry Mabbett

Forestry Journal: fjfj (Image: fj)

In March’s ‘Voices of Forestry’, I wrote about my thoughts and experiences concerning the topic of contractors being paid for tonnes rather than cubic metres and the so-called ‘angel’s share’ (‘“Angel’s share” – good for mature whisky, “sawmill’s share” – bad for forest owners and contractors’, Forestry Journal 331).

I lost a lot of money because the logs were laying at the roadside for a long time in a dry summer and the measurement was, as usual in Scotland, in tonnes and not cubic metres. 

Since then, I have had a meeting with the big timber trader and we found a solution in how to reduce the disadvantage I experienced. But the best news is concerning the next sale: if we come to an agreement on price, they will measure my logs in m3!

The purchase of BSW by the Austrian sawmill family Binder should also be a big step forward in the right direction: towards measuring logs in cubic metres instead of tonnes.

Stefan Fellinger
General Manager of Waldinvest and Wildökologie GmbH