Log ship a ‘welcome sight’ after long break

Friday 24 Apr 2020

The log trade through Eastland Port resumed on Tuesday this week after a break of three weeks. The port has taken every precaution to protect staff from Covid-19. Eastland Port was granted a dispensation from the Ministry of Transport to begin exporting logs while the country remains in Level 4 lockdown.

The dispensation allows the port to export logs already in the port storage areas. “This will clear the way for cart-in work to resume when the forestry industry returns to work at Level 3,” said port chief operating officer Andrew Gaddum. “We have taken every precaution to ensure the health and safety of staff set to return to work this week, with the first log ship since last month due in port this afternoon.

“This is very welcome news, as international demand for logs looks to be increasing and the Chinese economy starts to ramp up after Covid-19 restrictions were relaxed.” Tairawhiti’s forestry supply chain was one of the first local industries to experience the impacts of Covid-19, with a significant decrease in log exports to China that began in early February. Mr Gaddum said as of yesterday 300,000 tonnes of harvested logs were sitting at ports around New Zealand. “More than a third of that total (106,000 tonnes) is at Eastland Port.

“This dispensation will also be welcome news for our local forestry industry, as it allows us to get the port up and running as quickly and safely as possible, and ensure that the rest of the supply chain can return to work with minimal disruption.” However, Mr Gaddum said kick-starting the biggest supply chain in the region came with some challenges. “We have been working closely with local and national stakeholders to develop protocols around all aspects of working safely on site — from the truck drivers to the debarking teams, log marshallers to pilots. “I am proud that Eastland Port has been able to play a part in the national return-to-work for the export industry. The protocols we have been working on will be applied at ports across New Zealand.”

“Our forestry industry has shown great unity during this crisis. I am optimistically declaring there some light at the end of the tunnel, and very much look forward to getting our supply chain operational once again.” A second log boat is due here on April 27. The log ship Albany Sound will dock this afternoon, with the logger Port Botany due next Sunday and the Erradale due on April 28, also for logs.

Eastland Wood Council chief executive Kim Holland said there was “a feeling of positivity in the air” with news that the forestry workforce and industry would be back in operation next Tuesday. “It will be great to see that first ship come into the wharf (today) and take the first load of wood out, particularly as the log price is looking good, and there is an increasing international demand for ‘fresh’ wood,” Ms Holland said. “The shipping and movement of wood from the port during this week will enable harvesting and transport work to get moving from next Tuesday, with confidence.”

She said there had been a lot of work going on behind the scenes over the lockdown period to ensure that the forestry workforce could operate at Level 3, and that all steps were being taken to ensure their health, and safety at work, under Covid-19 “(see story in this week’s issue). I would like to acknowledge the work that Andrew Gaddum from Eastland Port and Ian Brown from Aratu have put into the national industry stakeholder group to develop the Covid-19 forestry industry operating protocols.

“These protocols cover operations and workers across the whole forestry supply chain, and meet the Ministry of Health and Ministry for Primary Industry (MPI) requirements to operate at Alert Level 3, and have been reviewed by WorkSafe and the Forestry Industry Safety Council (FISC).”

Source: The Gisborne Herald

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