Forestry workers who've lost jobs amid pandemic redeployed for conservation projects

Forestry workers feeling the impacts of Covid-19 are set to be redeployed to use their skills for biosecurity and conservation projects while they're out of work.

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The Government wants to redeploy hundreds of workers to other industries now crying out for staff. Source: 1 NEWS

Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor and Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage today announced that up to 160 forestry workers will pick up jobs in 55 projects in Northland, East Coast, Hawke’s Bay and Canterbury.

The projects, which are part of the Government’s $100 million redeployment support package announced in March, will tackle the invasive weed - wilding pines - which is a $4.6 billion dollar threat to farmland, waterways and ecosystems.

"Forestry workers were among the first to feel the economic impact of Covid-19. Their skills translate well to what’s needed for wilding pine pest management, ranging from pulling young trees by hand, skilled chainsaw operation, to operating heavy machinery," Mr O'Connor said.

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The industry was hit hard early by the coronavirus, when China closed its ports nearly three months ago. Source: 1 NEWS

"This is work that needs to be done and what we've done is accelerate projects which also saves money as the cost of removing wilding pines rises by 30 per cent each year."

Ms Sage said the new jobs were in track maintenance, planting, and pest and weed control, "to give native plants, birds and wildlife a chance to thrive".

"Redeployment brings the opportunity to develop new skills, and with on-the-job training, online certifications can be earned relatively quickly. Retraining will be a key part of the country’s economic recovery," she said.

The new projects will provide work for three to six months and will begin over the next two to three weeks.