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Forestry Worker (Planting and Thinning)

Job Description


• Must be a NZ Citizen or Resident

• Positions available right now

• Starting rate $19.00 an hour with travel plus greater than with piece rate or bonuses

• No experience needed (will train onsite)

• Travel provided to and from site

• Reference from last employer required

• Pre-employment drug test required

• Mandatory: must be drug and alcohol free, fit and reliable.


Forests are generally planted on land less suited for agricultural farming. The terrain is often steep and erosion prone. Worksites vary from comparatively easy terrain with little or no hindrance to steep cutover (recently harvested forest) with high hindrance. The work is physically demanding as it gets. It requires the ability to work in hot, cold and wet conditions. Vailea Silviculture Ltd has been supplying forest owners with a full range of forest establishment and silvicultural services since 2016. As a good employer we realise the value of good employees who make and are the company. We endeavour to support all our staff as a whanau not just to succeed at work but in life as well.


All employees receive comprehensive training to ensure that they understand the requirements of the job and are able to work in a safe and productive manner. Trees are planted with a 2-cut and minimum cultivation of 20cm each side at a stocking of around 1000sph (trees per hectare) or 3.3m x 3.3m apart.


Some clients require that the ground around newly planted trees are sprayed with a herbicide to reduce competition from surrounding weeds for light, nutrients and water. The herbicide is applied using a 15litre knapsack sprayer. Care must be taken to ensure that no trees are missed and the correct dose is applied. There are other forms of releasing (weed control) such as granules with a 500gm dispenser and manual releasing (scrub bar, chainsaw, machete).

Thinning to Waste

This is a job all year round and involves felling 7-12 year plantation trees (over and under 20cm). Each block has its own prescription for example how many trees to fell per hectare, and the required chainsaw cuts to be applied. There are higher costs and risk with this job as additional PPE is required and chainsaws with a 20-22 inch bar is required for each staff member. Safety compliance is also higher and strict rules must be followed at all times.


We guarantee a minimum hourly base rate of $19.00 an hour or greater than with piece rate and with bonuses. Workers should expect to earn between the equivalent of $19 to $40 hour depending on ability. Payment starts $19.00/hr (trainees). Once the trainee averages more than 80% of the production target he will effectively be earning more than $19 per hour, at this point he will move from $19.00 per hour to a tree rate ($200/ the production target). For example 8 boxes a day @ $25.00 = $200 a day. VSL also offers performance bonuses for attending 5 days a week and good quality measured by independent plots. For example $2.50 bonus per box for good attendance and $2.50 bonus for good quality. That’s a maximum of $30.00 per box and $32.40 with holiday pay for seasonal planters. This is a very high market rate. We offer a standard hourly rate of $19.00 an hour for trainees and non-experienced workers. An experienced thinner should earn $25.00 or greater than at piece rate (by hectare). For example working on piece rate a good thinner can earn between $35-40 an hour.

Working Hours

Work will normally be Monday to Friday, 6-8 hours per day. Travel time is generally outside of the 6-8 hour working day. To ensure your health and safety and in order to manage the risk of fatigue which results in accidents, VSL adopts a no more than 10 hours day including travel. VSL also believes weekends should be off for family time, although you may be requested sometimes to work on a Saturday to meet contract hours as a result of bad weather.

Absent from Work

Leave shall only be granted when absolutely necessary and for a good reason. Unjustified absences are not tolerated and subject to your employment agreement can be deemed as serious misconduct. This is because attendance is critical to reaching targets and preparing the next days routine. Lack of attendance can also increase production pressure on remaining staff which results in low moral. As a team and whanau we all rely on each other. Location,

Travel and Accommodation

VSL worksites are located on the East Coast and Gisborne. If we do have to travel and stay during the week onsite which is very rare VSL will not charge any employee for food and accommodation costs. We realise each employee has their own rent and housing to pay and therefore it would be unfair to charge additional costs.

Tools and Equipment

VSL will supply the planters with tools (planting spades, planting boxes, etc.) necessary to carry out the task in a safe and productive manner. This also includes knapsacks and granule dispensers, scrub bars, and machetes for releasing. We can also provide a chainsaw for Thinning to Waste operations if you do not have your own as these are expensive items.


VSL is responsible for providing its planters with all personal protective equipment suited for the task. This includes; canvas leggings, certified forestry boot & gloves for planting. PVC leggings, forestry boots, mask & gloves for release spraying. Leg protection, radio communications, helmet and visor, ear muffs, are also provided for Thinning to Waste operations. Replacement of lost or damaged tools and equipment is the responsibility of the employee. Costs shall be deducted from your wages.

Employment Agreement and Worker Rights 

Your employment agreement is always updated and in line with your statutory rights. This includes recognising all employee protection provisions under the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018. VSL is also one of the very few silviculture companies that supports its employees joining a worker’s representative union or network and also supports the idea of First Union being introduced into the sector. We are also active members of FICA and always support initiatives to improve silviculture contractor and employee work conditions.

Health & Safety

As a PCBU VSL takes its statutory obligations under the Health and Safety Act 2015 very seriously. VSL has an outstanding record of Health and Safety. VSL employs its own safety co-ordinator to ensure production pressure does not impede the health and safety of all VSL employees. Our independent audits are excellent which reflects VSL high standards. VSL also provides its own independent health and safety training beginning with robust worker inductions to ensure you are aware of your health and safety responsibilities, the relevant hazards and how to work safely. As a good employer our priority is to provide all our employees with the safest work environment as possible.

Training and development

VSL offers onsite training in accordance with the Approved Code of Practice for Forest Operations (2012). We will train and supervise you until you are competent to safely do the task alone. For those employees that show good attitude, performance, and attendance VSL with then place you on NZQA training programme to work towards a National Certificate in Forest Operations and Establishment Level 3. VSL is also working with a local training provider to develop more effective onsite training programmes. We want the best training available to retain local workers and develop them into long term careers in thinning to waste (tree felling). Other career opportunities include pruning and pathways into the wider forestry and logging sector. Planting is not just about putting trees in the ground; it is the foundation for pruning, thinning, harvesting and the industry as a whole. With a good forest owner, a good contractor and a good employee VSL believes the future and career pathway in silviculture is promising!!!


Due to the work environment and physical nature of this job, applicants should be;

• outdoor fit and prepared to work to the best of their ability

• Be highly motivated and have good discipline qualities.

• able to be challenged physically and mentally, can strive to achieve targets.

• reliable and punctual.

• able to work as a team member.

• be of sober habit particularly during the week.

Forestry Worker (Planting and Thinning)

Vailea Silviculture Ltd

Job type:

Full Time