Confor draws Government attention to dependence on EU and foreign labour in vital forestry jobs

11 September 2020

Confor has carried out surveys of the workforce presently deployed in the forest tree nursery sector, and similarly in the planting and establishment businesses responsible for planting the 130 million trees in the UK each year.  

The surveys have shown that in the forest nurseries 57% of the workforce is from the EU, with 65% of these people coming to work seasonally.  In the planting and establishment businesses, the survey picked up responses from those who plant nearly 50% of the annual planting programme, and that one-third of this labour comes from the EU, with 55% travelling seasonally to the UK to do this vital work. 

Respondents to both surveys observed how difficult it is to find reliable people from the domestic employment pool to do this kind of outdoor physical work.  Confor has written to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) - which advises the Home Office - and has asked that the new immigration regime does not unnecessarily inhibit the Europeans from continuing to help us with building British forests.  At the same time we have lobbied for forest managers and forest machine operators to be included in the Shortage Occupation List, and we were pleased to see Scottish Government endorsing these asks in their recent response to the MAC.