The vital role that forestry and the wood processing sectors are playing in the current COVID-19 pandemic was highlighted by Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary, Fergus Ewing (pictured), today (Thursday 26 March).
Mr Ewing commended the important contribution that they are making in producing key products, such as pallets, packaging, biomass fuel and face masks, to help keep Scotland – and the UK – safe and well during these unprecedented times.
“In these challenging and difficult times, it is imperative that essential goods, such as food supplies and medicines, and biomass fuel for hospitals and care homes get to the places where they are needed.
“This needs pallet manufacture and woodfuel processing to continue.
“I am immensely proud that Scotland’s forestry and timber processing sectors are working closely together to play their part in fighting the impact of this virus.”
Pallets are needed to transport goods such as pharmaceuticals and food, and pallet manufacturers currently use around half of the 3.7 million cubic metres of sawn timber produced in the UK every year.
Wood pellets are often used in heating systems that have no alternative or back-up system and are produced continuously.
Both require an unbroken supply of timber from Scotland’s forests.
Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) has confined its felling operations in order to keep staff safe to a level that helps meet these essential business demands.
The agency’s staff and contractors continue to practise social distancing rigorously and are following Government and NHS guidance.
Scottish Forestry also offered its support to private sector land managers.
Scottish Forestry Chief Executive, David Signorini, added;
“Covid-19 will undoubtedly have a longer-term impact on forest operations and on planting targets in Scotland.
“However, it’s clear that forestry has a major role to play in keeping Scotland moving.
“Land managers will each decide how best they can make an immediate contribution to supporting the national effort to manage this health crisis.
“But their first priority must be to keep staff and the public safe and so they must follow Government and NHS advice in doing this.”
Stuart Goodall, Chief Executive for forestry trade body, Confor, said:
“At a time where the whole nation is working together to tackle COVID-19 and minimise its impact on society, Confor very much welcomes this support and recognition of the forestry sector’s valuable contribution to that effort.
“It’s vital that everyone working in the industry follows Government and NHS advice, and operates safely with the protection of others in the front of their mind at all times.”