Forest industry says working with government is vital to lead recovery after COVID-19 epidemic

20 March 2020

The Forest Owners Association says it’s working closely with government in making sure that relief packages for forestry workers will both look after the workers and also speed economic recovery when the almost inevitable New Zealand COVID-19 epidemic is over.

The incoming FOA President, Phil Taylor says forestry will be a crucial export tool in leading New Zealand’s recovery.

“In common with the rest of the primary sector, we will be ready to do our part to pull our economy through the extraordinary times which are ahead of us.”

“After rock lobsters, forestry was been the second longest New Zealand industry to be impacted by measures in China to try to contain COVID-19.  This  has created some urgency to help people who have now been out of work for weeks.”

The Forestry Minister, Shane Jones, has announced a $28m relief package for forest workers in the Gisborne region, which will provide work for 300 forest workers in jobs such as road maintenance of removal of trees which are in danger of falling onto roads or powerlines.

Phil Taylor says it’s great that these workers can be given employment that is useful to the local economy, doesn’t take the workers away from their home region and keeps the workforce intact.

“The worldwide appetite for timber is undiminished.  In fact, it’s likely to increase for New Zealand timber as climate change has an impact on forests in other countries, such as Canada, Australia and through Europe.”

The Forest Growers Levy Trust, at its meeting in Wellington today, has also endorsed the government’s move in the Gisborne region.

The FGLT collects a levy on the national log harvest for industry good projects.

Its Chair, Geoff Thompson, says it appreciates the severity of the economic situation and will continue to back its forest work programme, despite the hit on its income from a reduced harvest.

“These are incredibly difficult and stressful times.  That means we must look after our workforce and work with the government on the best ways we can do this.”

For further information contact;

Geoff Thompson ph 0274 453 455

Images below Left = Phil Taylor, Right = Geoff Thompson