A forestry team in East Devon has been identified as key workers as they continue to harvest timber to maintain supplies to the UK.
Forestry workers at Clinton Devon Estates are continuing to deliver timber supplies to the industry, keeping up stocks of materials and the business running as usual.
The team – whose timber supplies manufacturers, sawmills and wood processing industries to make products such as packaging, biomass fuel and pallets for transporting goods that are moved by lorry, including medicines and food – has adapted its working routines to comply to social distancing rules.
The estate said Defra confirmed those involved in the supply chain of wood for key goods have been designated as key workers.
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.”
He added: “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.”
Clinton Devon Estate’s 1,900 hectares of sustainable and multi-purpose woodlands supply a host of timber products, plus promote bio-diversity, recreational and landscape uses.