Tilhill is constantly monitoring the information coming from Government through their daily updates and gathering as much relevent information as possible on this page. This is in order to provide everyone with an up to date one-stop-shop summary each day. We are also utilising the information provided by Confor and adding this to our summary page too, in order to keep you informed on what is an ever-changing scene.


Herewith the link to the dedicated Covid-19 hub on the Confor website: Confor Covid-19 Hub. Confor has produced a guide to working away from home in the forestry, wood processing and nurseries sector for and also guidance on what constitutes being a key worker: Working away from home

UK Government

Under the new lockdown, members of the public must not leave their house except to:

  • Shop for essentials, as infrequently as possible
  • Exercise outdoors once per day, alone or with household members
  • Receive medical treatment or provide care
  • Travel to and from work if impossible to work from home

Self Employed Information

Self employed Income support scheme details can be found here


Scottish Government guidelines publish on 25 March:

“We would advise all business premises, sites and attractions to close now unless:

  • capable of working in a way which is fully consistent with established social distancing advice

All individuals and businesses that are not being specifically required to close should consider a key set of questions– and at all times work on the precautionary basis:

  • can your staff work from home? Answer: No
  • if not can you practise safe social distancing and comply with ALL other standard health and safety requirements. Answer: Yes

We know that for some – self-employed gardeners, window cleaners, or those working in rural areas – where there is no contact – if you can practise safely, then this could be good for the community, but safety and social distancing must come first.”

Forestry and Land Scotland published on 26 March:

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, 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.

He said: “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 neeed.  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.”

Confor Summary

What does the Scottish statement mean for me?

It makes clear that businesses in the supply chain who provide wood products for essential goods should continue to operate unhindered. They are recognised as being in the supply chain for goods that are important to help protect lives and keep people safe. In addition, it reminds employers and workers to follow Government and NHS advice while working.

Confor would highlight that Government advice is clear:

  • only staff in those businesses who require to be at workplaces, ie who cannot work from home, should attend those workplaces.
  • Other staff, eg administrative staff should be encouraged to work from home. Government wishes to keep to a minimum the number of people who are travelling and working with others in order to maximise the impact of current restrictions on the population at large.

It is vital that businesses employing key workers continue to abide by current guidance on health practices under Covid 19.


DEFRA guidelines

The statement by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says:

“Those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods (including, but not limited to pallets, heating, packaging, tissue paper, timber harvesting, sawmills) should be considered key workers. Only necessary workers, producing key goods, should continue to attend workplaces. Working from home should be encouraged for administrative staff

  • The statement makes clear that businesses in the supply chain who provide wood products for the key goods listed, their employees can be considered as key workers. They are recognised as being in the supply chain for goods that are important to help protect lives and keep people safe.
  • However, the UK Government is clear that only staff working in those businesses who require to be at workplaces, ie who cannot work from home, should attend those workplaces. The Government wishes to keep to a minimum the number of people who are listed as key workers to maximise the impact of current restrictions on the population at large.

Please note: it is vital that businesses employing key workers continue to abide by all current stay-at-home advice and guidance on social distancing under Covid-19.


NRW guidance on Covid-19

On 25 March, NRW released their Covid 19 guidance. They recognise the importance of the timber supply chain and will continue to manage harvesting contracts where necessary and safe but only where it is possible to comply with UK and Welsh Government instructions on Covid- 19 restrictions and normal operational safety standards.

“Decisions will be made on a site-by-site basis and be a joint decision with customers and our contract managers and we recognise good communication between us is key. NRW recognise that the timber sector and supply chain contributes to products of importance during the Covid-19 emergency (eg biomass energy and pallets) and understand that business may be diverting their efforts to producing these products. We want to work with you to enable that which is why we are committed to our forestry operations for as long as it is safe to do so.”

On March 26, the latest Covid-19 advice included this on Forestry Operations: “We’re continuing with our harvesting operations to assist the supply of wood products. Helping to sustain essential services in the health, food and energy sectors. All of our forestry sites are subject to strict checks to ensure that we are operating within current Government guidelines on coronavirus and social distancing measures. We remain in close contact with Public Health Wales and will be reviewing our procedures daily in order to keep our staff, contractors, customers and partners safe.”


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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