Forestry during Alert Level 4

The majority of the forestry, wood processing and manufacturing sector has not been classified as an essential business.

Phased forestry restart

MPI is working with the forestry industry on a phased restart of some business to ensure essential service supply is maintained.

In order to start operations, businesses identified in these sectors will need to register with MPI as a primary industries essential business or essential service by emailing and asking for a registration form. Once this registration process is completed, a registration number will be issued. More information about registering can be found on our essential businesses page. to register

Essential businesses, services, and support services

Operators resuming activity will need to adopt best social distancing and health and safety practice to minimise the risk of community spread of Covid-19. MPI has guidelines to assist industry to develop their own site specific safe operating procedures.  

Safe work practices for businesses and workers

From 14 April

  • Sawmills will be able to resume production of essential service inputs (e.g. pallet material or heat energy) using the existing on-site log stock left in the log yard and work in progress that existed when they closed down.
  • Transporting logs between sawmills and sites that are operating/not-operating will be allowed to create sufficient scale at some operations rather than running multiple sites for short periods.
  • Loading and cartage of existing log stockpiles in the forest, and other points of the supply chain, will be allowed to resume to provide feedstock exclusively for Oji’s Kinleith pulp mill, firewood and solid fuel producers.
  • MDF and other Engineered Wood Products plants will be permitted to restart production on a limited basis to prevent perishable inputs e.g. resins from compromising the supply chain and creating significant adverse environment effects. This production will only utilise existing raw materials that are already on site or in the associated supply chain.
  • Wood chip, sawdust and other residues for animal welfare and other essential services.

From 20 April

  • Loading and cartage of existing log stockpiles in the forest, and other points of the supply chain, will be allowed to resume to sawmills to support the production of domestic essential service inputs e.g. pallet material.

After 23rd April

  • Forestry management and harvesting are not essential services under Alert Level 4. MPI will continue to work with industry to determine how harvesting could be undertaken to keep essential services operating, in the event that Alert Level 4 remains in place.

The information given here is current at time of publishing, but MPI will continue to give updates as more information comes to hand and further decisions are made.

Forestry businesses already able to operate 

If a business is producing essential inputs or products for food packaging, solid fuel, pharmaceutical items, or other essential services, they may operate during Alert Level 4.

  • Essential pulp and paper and packaging production at Oji FS Kinleith and allied sites including producing chemical by-products for the purposes of water treatment at the Oji FS Tasman site.
  • A time limited period for the production of newsprint at the Norske Skog newsprint mill.
  • Secondary wood processes for the purpose of producing shipping pallets, packing cases and other packaging requirements for supporting food, beverage and pharmaceutical supply
  • Firewood, Chip and solid fuel pellet production for supply of essential domestic and industrial heating (such as for hospitals and food processors) using existing raw fibre stock.
  • Dispatch operators within the supply chain ensuring the supply of existing finished good stock materials to essential services. This includes de-filleting and dispatching existing stock from sawmills.
  • Nurseries for the purposes of carrying out maintenance on capital stock and plants to keep them alive.

Financial help available for the forestry sector who are not part of the restart

A range of government support is available, including a wage subsidy, business finance guarantee, business cash flow and tax measures amongst others. If you’re an employer, contractor, sole trader or are self-employed you may qualify.

The wage subsidy is a lump sum payment for the employer to pass on to employees and covers 12 weeks per employee. The aim is to help keep your businesses going if you face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19.

Financial support - COVID-19

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