14 Oct 2020

Covid-19 – Critical point for forestry sector

By Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

Scotland’s forestry sector has played an important role in keeping us safe and secure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to do so now.

Essential forestry work, in the forests and in the sawmills and timber processors, carried on throughout lockdown, ensuring wood was available to make the pallets which transported medical and food supplies across the UK.

Wood material was also used for biomass heating systems, and timber products were a staple construction material in the COVID-19 emergency hospitals.

Working together safely
The forestry sector was one of the first sectors to gear back up to work. During this period, our operations demonstrated that we are an industry that could continue to work effectively, and most importantly, safely.

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Confor, Scottish Forestry, Forestry and Land Scotland and FISA worked to produce and share robust and detailed safe working practices, which enabled our gradual return to work.

Under a suite of guidance, those undertaking environmental management could operate safely and the sawmilling and timber processing sector were able to get back to business.

Forestry and Land Scotland also put in place COVID-19 safe measures which allowed their key visitor centres and car parks to re-open again. This provided a much needed tourism boost and an outlet for people to keep their well-being in check.

As an industry, we have all been working in the “new normal”.  However, we are now at a critical point in the pandemic. COVID-19 rates are rising and we all need to be particularly vigilant at this time.

We need to follow the guidance as individuals, managers and as employers. It is the only way we will get on top of this dangerous virus.

Forestry working guidance
The Working safely during coronavirus (Covid-19) in forestry and Manufacturing guidance has been refreshed. This is in response to the measures being taken to minimise the impact of COVID-19 over the winter months. Please ensure you are familiar with the guidance and keep up to date with any changes.

With the virus increasing its spread, it is imperative that we don’t let our guard down. We need to continue our high standards of safe working, to protect our families and our communities.

Stick with it - drive the virus down
I want to urge everyone in the forestry sector to play their part in the collective endeavour in helping drive down the spread of this virus.

Employers need to keep engaging with their workers and contractors to ensure everyone fully understands their role in keeping safe during this time. We need to stick with this at work but also follow the rules in life outside of work – it is the only way we can protect ourselves, friends and family.

If you are living and working in the central belt, think very carefully whether you need to travel outside your health board area. You should only really travel if it is essential so please check with your employer whether that business trip is really needed.

Test and Protect
If you haven’t done so already, I would strongly encourage everyone to download the Protect Scotland app. It is easy to do and is a valuable tool in helping us combat the spread of the virus.

protect scotland

All these measures really make a huge difference in interrupting the growth of COVID-19 across Scotland and beyond.

I know the last few months have been hard and it will continue to be so – but as an industry we always pull together in a crisis.

I want to thank you for your continuing efforts. As always, you have my full commitment to supporting you all during this pandemic.

Further info:

Remember FACTS:

Face coverings in enclosed places;
Avoid crowded places;
Clean hands and surfaces regularly;
Two metre distancing; and
Self-isolate and book a test – if you have symptoms.

Click here for safety guidance for the forestry sector during COVID-19:

General guidance on COVID-19 from the Scottish Government is available here