Friday, 20 March 2020 11:52

COVID-19: $28m to redeploy forestry workers

Written by  Staff Reporters
Forestry accounts for 6.7% of regional GDP in the Tairāwhiti economy. Forestry accounts for 6.7% of regional GDP in the Tairāwhiti economy.

The Government is spending $28 million to redeploy almost 300 forestry workers.

The scheme is part of a $100 million package to redeploy workers affected by the economic impact of COVID-19. 

Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford says COVID-19 is having a significant impact on workers throughout New Zealand, especially forestry workers in Tairāwhiti. 

“Forestry was one of the first industries to be seriously impacted by COVID-19 but by keeping the infrastructure and workforce of the sector intact, we hope it will be one of the first to recover,” says Twyford. 

The announcement comes on the same day as Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announcing that Tairāwhiti’s wood processing sector will receive funding through the Provincial Growth Fund of $12.1 million. 

Alternative work identified for Tairāwhiti forestry workers includes:

• local roading work, including road maintenance

• hazardous tree removal

• fast-tracked One Billion Trees projects

• conservation activities

• retraining and educational opportunities.

The Tairāwhiti package will be administered through the Provincial Development Unit in partnership with the Mayors’ Forum and Gisborne District Council. Affected workers will be referred via the Ministry of Social Development’s Rapid Response Team and affected businesses.

Jones says forestry accounts for 6.7% of regional GDP in the Tairāwhiti economy, however a recent slow-down has meant that the sector is low on cash reserves. 

“The sector was just recovering from a slow-down over last winter. Many small firms used their cash reserves to get them through that and some companies are now struggling to survive.

“However, the future for the forestry sector is extremely bright and we want to ensure it is in a position to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 as quickly as possible. By redeploying workers to short-term projects, we can help ensure they are available to go back to the forestry sector once it returns to normal,” says Jones.

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