Union believes reduced logging targets threaten jobs in rural areas ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Worker in the wood industry.
Worker in the wood industry. Source: Raul Mee/ Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association

The Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Union believe a reduction in felling volumes would lead to job losses in rural areas which would be hard to replace.

Jaak Nigul, chairman of the board of the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association said: "While cities primarily consume the benefits of the forest, such as wooden houses and furniture, cardboard coffee cups or warm rooms, for many people the forest is their main bread-maker."

A study by Ernst & Young Baltic AS shows about 60,000 people, or one in ten jobs, are directly and indirectly involved in the Estonian forest and timber sector. The forest and timber industry has the greatest impact in rural areas, especially in central and southern Estonia.

In Central Estonia, the forestry sector accounts for one-fifth of employment in the region. The sector also has a major impact in southern Estonia, where it accounts for 15 percent of employment.

"The forest and wood industry is probably the most digitized industry in Estonia, which has created the opportunity to compete successfully with older forest countries such as Sweden, Finland, Germany or Austria. As a result, the added value of industries is also high and wage levels are one of the best in rural areas," he said. "For example, the Toftan sawmill in Võru County has an average salary of more than €2,000."

The forest and wood industry exports € 2.4 billion a year in goods and products, and is a big part of foreign trade. Despite its small size, Estonia is one of the largest exporters of wooden houses in Europe. The sector plays a key role in employment in rural areas and it is estimated that the state will generate tax revenue of € 700 million.

Critics of the logging industry believe too many trees are being cut down every year.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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