Why the Government can’t see the wood for the trees.

It probably seemed a good idea at the time. Like a scene out of Yes Minister.

Sir Humprey: “Mr Prime Minister, they are just useless areas of land with trees on, full of spiders and nasty insects and it’s costing the tax payer 5p a year to maintain. We can sell them to private companies, make a killing (keep the 5p) and no on will care.”

PM: “What if the new owners turn them into shopping centres?”

Sir Humprey: “Not your problem PM, by the time the concrete has set we’ll be in opposition anyway.”

Well it is a problem and the general public are up in arms. Not just the tree huggers, or the greens, or even Swampy, but everyone. You can sell off the cemeteries but the voter has decided to defend their local green woodlands.

And with Climate Week just around the corner (March 21-17) people are again discussing the issues of trees and our environment. Trees are very symbolic of what?s good, a natural contrast to the concrete jungle 90% of us live in. And any threat to them does not go down well.  As consumers are getting more ethical by the year, it really didn’t need anyone with even half a brain to realise the outcome of this cost cutting idea. How ill informed can people be?

It always amazes me that in an age when it is so easy to do research so many people who should know better, don’t. Saving on research is the dumbest cost saving you can make (even more so than selling off forests). That’s like going to Euston station only to discover the train you want goes from Charring Cross, because you didn’t check it out before.

Getting customer insight is vital before you make decision, yet how many millions are spent on ads with little to none? And how often is research replaced by a marketing director’s assumptions or account handlers personal view of the world? I worked on a pitch last year for a known brand with a sizable budget and they had no idea who their customers were.

No idea about age, demographics, gender or income level. Nothing. And this is not the first. Why is this?

And talking of statistics, since the creation of the Forestry Commission in 1919, the proportion of the UK covered in trees has risen from 4% to 12, however, according to the Woodland Trust, this remains well below the rest of the EU, where the figure is nearer to 30.
So had the government gone out and done some research they’d discovered what YouGov did – 84% of people were opposed.to the government’s plans.

One pressure group claimed it had already collected 400,000 signatures on a petition and there’s no lack of celebrities joining in supporting the campaign (and probably Tweeting away with Fry).

The problem the government has is that voters get very emotional about things governments don’t. Anything eco being one of them.

Oh well, at least it’ll keep their PR crisis team in business for a while.

BBC – Why are we a nation of tree-huggers?

Save Our Woodlands & Forests on Facebook

Climate Change Week