Drug-and-alcohol-free staff at a Bay of Plenty forestry business are getting monthly bonuses of up to $100.
Inta-Wood Forestry Ltd staff plant and prune trees across the Bay of Plenty and Waikato.
Nathan Fogden, who owns the contracting company, said silviculture companies struggled to find enough planters last year, posing a threat to the Government's goal of planting one billion trees across the country by 2028.
The planting season normally runs from June to September and Fogden is trying to find staff for his Rotorua and Hamilton crews.
The Forest Industry Contractors Association estimates nationally 30 to 40 per cent of intended plantings did not happen last year due to workforce limitations.
Fogden believed it would be closer to 40 to 50 per cent in some regions.
Finding drug-free staff was difficult but the industry also faced other issues, he said.
"You might have someone apply and they're really needed but they're not passing those tests ... We are also challenging our industry around rates of pay, to encourage people to contemplate those lifestyle choices."
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He did not want to see drug testing standards and practices relaxed in New Zealand.
"We have gone to great lengths to try and erode and eradicate impairment from our workforce ... Because it's not just about health and safety. It's about the quality of the work too and attendance reliability."
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He drug tests his staff monthly to ensure they're "in good condition to be on site" and staff are rewarded with up to $100 each time they pass.
"If someone fails a drug test, we don't just move them on, we try to work with them to achieve a result where they can continue in our business after a period of standing down ... but equally there is a big financial penalty if they fail and don't get the bonus. It's significant money."
Fogden said this approach makes forestry "a more lucrative and inviting place to work".
"We are sometimes asking parents for the opportunity to employ their 17 or 18-year-old kids ... We want to bring them into a work environment that encourages healthy minds and healthy bodies."
He said getting better contract rates for silviculture crews like his was "just as important" as finding impairment-free staff.
"Without people doing our type of work, there would be fewer trees, fewer logs for our industry to either process internally or export, forestry is one of our biggest exporters in this country ... We have to compete with pay rates in other industries.
"Our work is undervalued - people don't actually understand the effort that goes into doing the job properly."
Crews could be "sent back" to dig out and replant trees if they were not planted correctly.
"So if my staff don't do the job to the right standard ... That's on me financially and the margins aren't big enough for me to be able to cover that so I need people at work that can focus on achieving top results."