Jobs axe a blow to tree research, union says


Jobs axe a blow to tree research, union says

The Forestry Commission’s announcement of 500 job losses has been condemned by specialist union Prospect as a major blow to vital environmental research and management in England, Scotland and Wales.

“The whole country is mobilising against the government’s unpopular plan to sell off England’s public forest estate to private owners,” said Prospect negotiator Malcolm Currie. “But this week it has become clear that the commission faces great damage even before any moves to sell off England’s forests are implemented.

“Today the commission announced the loss of at least 150 jobs at the GB headquarters in Edinburgh, and 350 in England, just to achieve a 25% cut required by the Comprehensive Spending Review. There will also be a knock-on effect in Wales.

“The unions were given more details about restructuring plans in England and it’s clear these job cuts are just the tip of the iceberg. The organisation is being forced to choose which limb to cut off.”

Many of Prospect’s 270 FC members 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 who work for the Commission, and whose jobs are also in danger.

“Nobody else will be in the position to do this work,” warned Currie. “If for example, the government had its way and sold forestry land to charitable organisations, those forests’ future would be compromised without access to the commission’s globally respected knowledge base.

“What a waste to lose all this expertise and vital skills that the British taxpayer has paid for. I fear that the level of cuts proposed will put the credibility and future of the Forestry Commission in doubt.”