Hundreds of job losses expected as value of log exports to China drop

Hundreds of people in the regions could be out of a job and out of pocket after a fall in the value of log exports to China.

Forestry is New Zealand's third largest export earner, and more than half of the logs that leave our shores go to China - where we're the largest supplier.

That means any dip in price there, is felt hard here in Aotearoa.

"With the price coming back the farmers have got the right to stop harvest, so crews are probably left out in the cold a bit with that," said Mike Hurring of Mike Hurring Logging & Contracting.

An oversupply of logs to China has pushed prices down, dropping nearly 20 percent over the past month.

Larger companies are likely to weather this storm, but it's a different story for the smaller players.

"We've just got to be careful and go into blocks that perhaps we don't produce too much just while the markets are down," said Hurring, who has eight logging crews based out of Balclutha.

"We've logged blocks pretty much at a loss just to keep people employed. We understand there are families to feed and mortgages to pay."

His workers are some of the lucky ones, with hundreds of jobs expected to be lost.

"We're going to see reduced hours, certainly possibly down by 50 percent in a number of cases," said David Rhodes, chief executive of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association.

But financial concerns haven't deterred some of Hurring's students from entering the industry, with one saying he would like to one day run the business.