The Tasmanian Government Coronavirus website provides the latest information for the Tasmanian community on COVID-19.
COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines & Recommended Practices for the Forestry Industry
The Tasmanian Government has released the COVID Safe Workplace Guidelines for the Forestry Industry (the Guidelines). The Guidelines set out what employers should do as they continue, or seek to resume, business operations. By following these Guidelines, workplaces will be able to show their compliance with minimum standards determined by Public Health, and with the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act. This will keep workers and others safe from COVID-19.
The Guidelines are intended to work with, and indeed heavily reference, the forestry industry-endorsed COVID-19 Recommended Practices for Tasmanian Forest Industry Operations - which detail how to put guidelines into practice relative to each sector of the forest industry.
COVID-19 Mental Health and Wellbeing video series
The Tasmanian Forest Industry has released a four-part video series to support mental health and wellbeing within the industry through COVID-19. The videos were created as a collaboration between eight industry organisations and supported by the Tasmanian Government.
Forest Industry Communications COVID-19 Updates
For the Tasmanian Forest Sector, The Department of State Growth has collated the latest COVID-19 information, support and assistance relevant to the sector in a concise document, which is updated regularly.
The latest fact sheet is available here:
Forest Industry Situation Report as at 22 May 2020
Based on information compiled by the Department of State Growth
* The harvesting, haulage, processing and export of forestry products is continuing – despite some significant impacts and challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
* Two southern processing facilities remain closed, both companies citing Covid-19 as at least partially responsible for the closures.
* Two other processing facilities are reporting reduced production due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions. Paper production is down due to reduction in advertising, however domestic hardwood timber sales are holding with the Sydney market particularly confident.
* Southern native forest contractors operating off public land remain operating at reduced capacity due to quota restrictions currently being applied until the end of May.
* Contractors working in the plantation sector are yet to report any significant disruption to operations.
* COVID-19 is impacting global trade and export markets for forest products in complex ways, which is further complicated by the different stages key countries are at in terms of dealing with the pandemic.
* Whole log exports continue to Asian destinations including China and Malaysia.
* Latest advice suggests that the key Chinese markets are recovering:
- Whole log exports have recovered from recent lows with increased demand and improved prices. Stocks on Chinese ports have begun to reduce as China returns to work.
- Woodchip exports continue to improve, albeit at reduced prices, as the Chinese pulp and paper manufacturing sector recovers. Companies with forward contracts report strong demand at satisfactory price levels, whilst those without suggest the current market is patchy (although the outlook appears positive).
* A recent market announcement noted that “the Japanese pulp and paper sector is now being adversely affected by the recent lock-down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic”. However there has not been any material impacts reported for Tasmanian forestry exports into Japan.
* A current shortage of shipping containers is impacting the ability to export containerised products.
Critical Risks and Issues:
* A continued shortage of shipping containers could result in a prolonged suppression of the export of containerised products.
* A limited number of pilots and train drivers to move forestry freight.
* Qualified contractors to perform key ship loading functions, such as inspectors who perform woodchip inspections for insects, are limited.
* Essential supply chain operations remain at risk from restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
* The reduced demand for sawlog and peeler billets (from temporary closure of key processing facilities) is likely to result in decreased pulpwood availability from public native forests.
* Forestry and housing industry peak bodies have expressed concerns that detached home-building, already at a 6 year low, will fall even further. This would result in a suppressed demand (potentially halving) for softwood (for house framing) and hardwood (for moulding and joinery) finished products, over the next six months.
* Both the Australian and Tasmanian governments have announced stimulus packages. Tasmanian Government – Business and Industries
Government engaging with Industry during COVID-19
The Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment recognises that our agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries are essential, and that these industries must stay strong through this unprecedented period.
Mark Tucker has been appointed as Senior Agriculture Industry Engagement Officer to work closely with industry as a central point of contact. You can keep informed with this document: COVID-19 Industry Engagement article.
For more information, visit the COVID-19 Industry Engagement page HERE.
Rapid Response Skills Initiative
As a response to the current COVID-19 situation affecting business, on March 27 2020, the Tasmanian Government announced an increase in funding and scope to the Skills Tasmania administered Rapid Responsive Skills Initiative.
There are two distinct streams of support for employers and job seekers as described HERE.
Further details, including the Guidelines, are available HERE or please contact Allan Kenny (0438 371 183) or Bill Duhig (0400 843 804) from Skills Tasmania, or Nick Prokopiec (0419 425 168) from Searson and Buck.