WHILE the UK is in lockdown during the coronavirus crisis, essential timber harvesting work is continuing at Clinton Devon Estates to maintain vital supplies to the industry.

DEFRA has confirmed those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods have been designated as key workers, and the forestry team at Clinton Devon Estates (the Estate) have been working hard to keep the business running as usual.

John Wilding, head of forestry and energy for the Estate, said: “UK forestry is critical in the supply of a number of products and that is especially clear at this time. It’s the everyday items which are now in greater demand that can easily be taken for granted.

“As soon as loads are at forest roadside ready for collection, they are gone. Our timber goes on to supply manufacturers, sawmills and wood processing industries to make vital products such as packaging, biomass fuel and pallets for transporting goods that are moved by lorry, including medicines and food. These are all important items at this time but with pallet wood in particular it is imperative we keep that supply chain going. The recent run on supermarkets has seen an unprecedented demand for pallets, as stores are restocked, which has stretched the sawmill supply chain.”

The Estate’s 1,900 ha of sustainable, multi-purpose woodlands deliver biodiversity, recreational and landscape benefits, alongside the production of timber. Managed woodlands account for 17 per cent of the Estate area in East and North Devon, comprising a rich mixture of both commercial conifers and native broadleaved species, which provide a wide range of habitats for many plants and animal species.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the forestry team have had to adapt their working routines to ensure they are meeting social distancing guidelines.

John commented: “There have had to be changes made for everyone’s safety. For example, one of our sub-contractors is alternating his time between two vehicles so only one person is needed on site. He’ll drive the harvester some of the time, and then the forwarder, which transports the felled logs to a roadside collection point. Chainsaw use has also been minimised to reduce the risks even further.”

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