Job cuts still threaten forests, warns union

Job cuts still threaten forests, warns union

The government U-turn on the sale of 85% of England’s forest estate was hailed by Prospect as testament to the strong feeling across the country about the importance of keeping woods in public hands.

But as part of the cuts announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review, the commission has already announced plans to shed 150 jobs at the Commission’s UK headquarters in Edinburgh, and 350 jobs in England. These will go from two branches of the Commission’s operations – Forest Enterprise, which manages the public forest estate; and Forestry Services, which supports the grants and licensing system.

These figures do not include a third part of the Commission – Forest Research – which faces 25% cuts under the CSR. Details of these have yet to be announced, warned Prospect negotiator Malcolm Currie.

“Even with the U-turn, England’s forests still face real dangers, and we urge the public to keep up the pressure. These job cuts will affect staff in England, Scotland and possibly Wales, and what we’ve seen so far is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Although we’ve won this particular battle the war is not yet over because the ability of the Forestry Commission to do its job properly will be compromised. Given the myriad of benefits that come from the Commission’s work, and the huge wave of public support, it is short-sighted to go ahead with these cuts. We urge the public to keep up the pressure on the government to leave the Commission alone.”

Prospect has 270 members in the Commission, many of whom carry out vital environmental research to guard against and combat tree diseases and monitor climate change. They depend on the librarians, photographers, and other specialists whose jobs are also in danger.