On Wednesday evening I joined the CONFOR webinar regarding “supporting contractors during and after Covid-19.”

I have been a supporter of CONFOR for many years and have been a regular contributor to their Forestry and Timber News Magazine; I look to CONFOR as our political representatives who can get things done.

The amount of people who joined in with the webinar was very disappointing; there were less than 40 people who took part. When you consider there were eight speakers and members of CONFOR staff included in this figure, that it was being broadcasted in the evening, and with most of us in lockdown at home, this was a poor representation of our industry in a time of crisis.

I have to admit when I first saw the list of speakers I thought that perhaps leading forestry and timber haulage contractors, equipment suppliers, along with representation from saw mills and wood processing plants would have been better qualified to hold the webinar.

I was hoping for some news from speakers who could give us some indication as to what contractors could be faced with going forward in our industry but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

We are in unchartered territory with a lot of uncertainty ahead of us but the webinar did not really cover what it was supposed to, which was supporting contractors during and after Covid-19.

I thought it was a wasted opportunity and although I have the utmost respect for some of the people who spoke, unfortunately in my opinion no real progress was made.

Most of the topics that were discussed were reiterating what has already happened as opposed to what we might be facing. Going over social distancing at work, training new operators and is Covid 19 affecting large and small contractors differently, had nothing to do with supporting contractors in their time of need.

I think if the people who were being represented by the webinar had been involved, better progress could have been made

I have been reporting as much positive news as I can on my website and social media channels and I was hoping for some more positives from this webinar. I have recently published articles on building and construction companies, builder’s merchants and forest machine manufacturers re-starting work which is fantastic news for our industry.

I have been speaking to several contractors and forestry workers from a wide section across our industry and it is a very mixed bag of results.

These are my conclusions from the information they have supplied.

Many contractors are still working at full capacity with thinnings and smaller diameter wood still in good demand, other contractors on larger diameter trees are on limited quotas or are parked up until the building and construction industry re-starts.

The sale of new harvesting equipment has fallen but spare parts and service kits and accessories are still required. Smaller equipment sales i.e. chippers, firewood processors and stump grinders are still strong.

The biomass market is buoyant and smaller sawmills are busy supplying fencing panels and timber needed for gardening projects. Fencing markets are good as livestock fences still have to be replaced or repaired.

Egger will be restarting operations next week at a reduced capacity and other wood processing plants are  working but not at full capacity.

Hopefully we are on the road to some sort of recovery but we are all still fumbling in the dark and this is why it would have been good to find out more from James Jones, BSW, Balcas, Glennon’s, Norbord and other similar companies. Their combined perspective of how they see the timber markets performing in the next few months would have given contractors some idea of what they might be facing and how they could prepare for it.

We are facing a lot of uncertainty but in every battle to have any chance of winning we need strong characters we can look up to and who will lead us in the fight to overcome the effects of Covid 19 on our industry.

See the full webinar here

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Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.

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