South Estonian forest owners still counting cost of October storms

Storm damage in South Estonia.
Storm damage in South Estonia. Source: ERR

Forestry owners in southern Estonia have been counting the cost of the Oct. 26 storms, which levelled large areas of trees, according to a report on ETV current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera.

Despite rejuvenation being more expensive than clear cutting in damaged areas, as well as a slump in timber prices, owners have been advised to restore stock in the storm's aftermath, which saw an estimated 100,000 cubic meters of forest blown down.

"We have never had a storm like this in South Estonia before," said Andres Sepp, chief forestry officer at state forestry authority the RMK.

"Storms like this tend to hit the islands in western Estonia, or northern Estonia. Naturally, it is now up to us to clear up the forest; we can use the removed materials," Sepp added.

The storms also caused extensive damage in private forests. Erki Sok, CEO of the Võrumaa forestry association, said that part of the problem was the dispersed nature of the storm damage.

"The peculiarity of this storm is that it has not taken [trees] down in rows, but it has instead taken out individual trees from many places. It is not worth it to bring in major technology for small-scale felling, but those who still want to cut down trees might still make some profit," Sok said.

Võru County sawmills are not seeing large quantities of timber coming in off the back of the storm, however, nor have prices been affected, they say. At the same time, some private owners may not yet be aware of the sheer scale of damage in their forests.

"The storm blew down individual trees, and as it is very costly there hasn't been a huge wave of timber on offer," said Jürgen Ainsalu, CEO of sawmill AS Barrus.

"Of course, this would be a little time-consuming too; many owners are very far from the forest they own, and still counting theor losses," Arula said.

The original Aktuaalne kaamera segment (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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