NZ – Forestry: Plan for supporting essential services

Covid-19: Supporting essential services by continuing essential activity across the forestry sector.

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Wood processing, sawmilling, forest harvesting and forestry management are NOT essential services. However, MPI is working on a phased restart of some businesses to ensure essential service supply is maintained.

Businesses will need to register as an essential service and can start this process by emailing and request a forestry registration form. Businesses can restart while the registration form is being processed.

Once this registration process is completed, a registration number will be issued.

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. More information is available here: Safe work practices for businesses and workers.

Phased restart: From 14 April

  • Sawmills will be able to resume production of essential service products such as sawn timber for pallet manufacture or wood for heating using log stock that already exists at their place of business. Dispatch from sawmills is still restricted to only material required for the provision of domestic essential services. Transporting logs between sawmills and sites 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.

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 domestic production of other 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.

Financial help is 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.

More information on support packages is available on