A short Christmas wish list
As we were putting together our December-January edition of International Forest Industries, our sparse office – the Omicron variant has meant the government in the UK has once again advised we work from home, where possible – was preparing to shut down and enjoy some well-earned time with family.
To say this little period was an unsettled time would be both right and wrong. It was unsettled in the sense that a new variant was once again making planning tough and causing the stress levels among many to rise. But it was hardly unsettled in the sense that it did not represent a departure from what has become the norm. We have been fighting COVID-19 with a multitude of scientific and anti-social measures for coming up to two years and so, in most respects, a challenging Christmas period was, simply, more of the same.
The concern for our office was therefore centred on whether we would have to endure another eventless, and largely travel-less, 12 months. For me, my letter to Santa Claus – or Sinnterklaas or Saint Nicholas or Kris Kringle or whatever variation you prefer where you are – was therefore short.
Dear Santa, Please may I have a year in which I can travel to Elmia or Trä & Teknik or any of the many North America-based events and start to reengage with the forestry sector. Yours in desperation,
From my perspective, it has just been too long. It is presumably much the same from a broader industry perspective. We, of course, understand the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic but with vaccines and boosters rolling out, and the need for these to adapt to what will be a steady stream of variants – in line with regular flu – we hope that we are approaching the point at which we learn to live with COVID-19.
That is likely to mean inconveniences like ‘COVID passports’, masks and a level of distancing in some places and certain settings, but it would avoid lockdowns and travel restrictions that mean businesses – including events businesses – can plan and get on with things.
Events are central to what forestry businesses do. With contractors and sawyers often in fairly (or very) remote settings, the ability to come together to see the latest in equipment and put in orders is critical. Just as important is to sit with peers and share information so as to learn from one another – publications like ours help facilitate this sharing of knowledge at a high level, but there is nothing like sitting with an industry friend and chewing the fat for the benefit of both.
From the equipment supplier perspective, this is where new kit is publicised, order books are filled and relationships for future deals are built. Events are a logistical undertaking that challenge teams, get employees out of the office, and give them an opportunity to bond.
On top of all that, it is the relationships across suppliers, contractors, media and government that make this industry fun and keep us all sane.
So, for me, if nothing else, I’m hoping Christmas and birth of the New Year brings with it – if not a return to normality – the emergence of a slightly different and curbed reality, but one where we can be together as an industry, once again.