Covid-19 industry update

Confor is working with the public forest authorities across the UK to clarify working arrangements for the industry in early 2021 after the latest Covid-19 regulations were announced. 

Stuart Goodall, Confor’s Chief Executive, has spoken to public bodies across the UK and confirmed that the  guidance below is appropriate to the industry:

Across the UK 

Confor established during the first lockdown in spring that businesses in the forestry and wood processing sector are supplying essential goods and can therefore continue to operate – this situation has not changed. In accordance with government guidance, staff who can work from home should work from home. While tree nurseries and tree planting were not considered by governments to be essential to the health and safety of the population, the restrictions announced so far do not mean that such businesses should stop working. Therefore, they can continue, again in accordance with guidance on safe working and staff who can work from home should work from home. The forestry and wood processing sector has had a good record in Covid safe working and everyone is encouraged to maintain that in the difficult weeks ahead. 
Forestry Commission England updated its guidance on 7th January. Read it here
Forestry England has confirmed that it is expecting to continue its forestry, land management and visitor services under the new guidance, though visitor services will focus on enabling local exercise. 
Scottish Forestry is checking the detail of the Scottish Government’s announcement and will also consider the need for any changes/additions to FISA/Manufacturing guidance. All Forestry and Land Scotland activities will continue to be managed under Scottish Government regulations and guidance. At this time, forestry operations can continue.                                                                                                                                                   
Forestry operations are continuing, including harvesting to assist with the supply of wood products and sustaining essential services in the health, food and energy sectors. All forestry sites are subject to strict checks to ensure they are operating within Government guidelines
Natural Resources Wales remains in close contact with Public Health Wales and will be reviewing procedures daily in order to keep staff, contractors, customers and partners safe.
Felling licence applications and Environment Impact Screening Requests are being processed as normal - with the aim of completing them in the standard timescales. Site visits are not being carried out for these applications unless there is an essential reason. If a site visit is required, NRW will follow guidance on social distancing. Licensing staff are working from home and can be contacted via email on
Car parks, trails, play areas and toilets in most of its woodlands and nature reserves are open - but visitor centres and cafés are currently closed. Read the full guidance here
There is more information about the NRW response to the Covid-19 pandemic on the regulatory side here. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Northern Ireland 
The new regulations require people in Northern Ireland to stay at home and no-one may leave their home without reasonable excuse, which includes going to work when such work cannot be reasonably done from home. A reasonable excuse such as this would appear to allow people to continue to go to work in the forest and a wood processing plant where such work cannot be done from home. As was the situation prior to the new regulations, work sites must have all necessary Covid-19 mitigation measures in place.

The new regulations also state that outdoor parks (e.g. forest recreation areas) are permitted to remain open, although people should not travel more than 10 miles from their home in order to take exercise.