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Good vibe as forestry sector returns to work

Many of the region's forestry workers were back on the job yesterday and more will go back into the forest over the next week as the industry steadily ramps up again in Alert Level 3 of the Covid-19 pandemic measures.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Kim Holland said this morning there was definitely a positive energy and vibe in the air yesterday.

“Everyone's keen to get back to work, and what a stunning day to do it too —the East Coast at its best.”

Robert Stubbs from Stubbs Contracting said on TVNZ 1 news last night that he had 25 staff back at work yesterday.

Ms Holland said it was great to see log trucks going up and down the coast yesterday on their way to or from Eastland Port, and to see vessels in the bay.

The log ship Erradale is sitting alongside the Gisborne wharf loading logs for China, and will be there until Saturday.

Three other log ships have been scheduled to load in the next week — the Port Botany, Yangtze Eternal and the Funing, with the Port Alfred due on May 15.

Ms Holland said she has had feedback from contractors that everyone would be taking the Covid-19 health and safety protocols seriously on site, to ensure everyone was safe in their work bubbles.

“The log price and exchange rate is looking good at present, there is good off-take from the wharves in China, and increased demand with economic stimulus.

“We will continue to monitor what is happening over the next few months,” she said.

“The planting season is fast approaching, so companies are in land preparation mode, and contractors will be looking to recruit approximately 150 planters.

“We are working with the Forestry Industry Contractors Association, Ministry of Social Development and contractors to promote vacancies through the Work The Seasons platform.

“I'm not sure how many workers are back but I do know that some contractors that shed crews early on in the crisis are taking a wait-and-see approach,” Ms Holland said.

“With the strong market conditions we would expect that numbers will build back up over the next few weeks.”