Labour is set to announce a plan to get long term unemployed working in forestry when Leader David Cunliffe speaks to an industry conference in Wellington this morning.

Mr Cunliffe will set out Labour's economic plan for the forestry and wood products sector at the Forestwood Conference at Te Papa.

"We have a comprehensive policy package for the development for the forest, processing and timber industry", Mr Cunliffe said last night.

"This package will be an example at a sector level of the economic upgrade that we outlined on Friday last week."


Mr Cunliffe said forestry was an obvious area to start with.

"We are concerned about getting better jobs and higher incomes across the economy and we know that part of that in our primary sectors is about working with industry on a journey from volume to value.

"In forestry it's obvious that a hell of a lot of timber leaves New Zealand as raw logs. It's grown rapidly to being half our production and meanwhile our mill capacity and employment is declining, our value add is declining, our productivity is declining. The package of measures will be designed to address those gaps."

The Herald understands initiatives will include establishing forestry taskforces to develop skills, including health and safety practices for the long term unemployed.

With some similarities to the Taskforce Green programme, the scheme will involve tree planting on marginal Crown land and will include incentives for the private sector.

The scheme will be targeted at regions with high long term unemployment such as Northland, East Coast and the central plateau.

The Herald also understands Mr Cunliffe will also outline Labour's intentions around a "wood first" policy requiring locally produced timber to be used in the construction of new Government buildings.