Viljandi County trees illegally felled during bird nesting period

Near Suislepa, in Viljandi, over seven hectares of mostly birch stands belonging to the family of Valdur Mikita, a known guardian of Estonians' love for forests, were cut during the period of bird nesting.

The land in question contains over 16 hectares of woodlands, which itself consists of 23 different allocations. On April 27, a few days before the period of bird nesting, 14 of those 23 allocations had a forest notice submitted. The logging right was given on the same day regarding eight, and the rest received a logging permit on May 18, daily Postimees writes (link in Estonian).

According to different estimations, up to €3,000 was saved by acting during the nesting period, but on such a large area, hundreds of birds and eggs were destroyed. A chain reaction of events could also affect surrounding woods, but not before 2022.

The felling was repotedly arranged by Mare Mikita, 80-year old mother of Valdur Mikita, who himself is a symbol of Estonians' love for nature and thought of as a guardian of Estonian forests.

Valdur Mikita affirms he has nothing to do with the felling and on what basis the felling was supported: "I knew there was a plan to sell the land, but I didn't know it was during bird nesting period."

Mare Mikita told the paper that to her knowledge there has been no cutting yet: The contract agreed to with Valma Saeveski OÜ stated that felling should be done in the summer. She noted that the workers went into the woods without her knowing.

Olav Arus, representative for Valma Saeveski said that he was suprised to hear such claims and confirmed that under no circumstances is work started without notifying the forest owner. He also confirmed that Mare Mikita was given proper information on when the felling would start.

The daily was not able to explain more of the conflict as Mare Mikita and Olav Arus presented a unified release stating that no laws had been broken and the situation had reached a conclusion.

Valdur Mikita: I will not interfere with my parents' actions

In a release sent to publications on Monday, Valdur Mikita states that he can confirm two things with a clear conscience: "Firstly, the land does not belong to me and I have not organized any kind of sale. That's just a blatant lie. Second, the first I heard of the felling was on June 10 from Tuuli Jõesaar, a journalist at Eesti Päevaleht."

The writer continued: "If I were to lie, you can call me a traitor for the rest of my life and forget my name and books forever."

Mikita added that his parents have managed the lands near their farm for over 30 years and he has never interfered with their actions and decisions.

Mikita noted that the woodland is far from their farm and his mother had no idea the felling had started: "My father and mother are still making firewood for themselves every year, but my mother sold the logging rights to a local timber company."

According to Valdur Mikita, the representative of the timber company admitted that the reasoning for the early Spring-Summer felling is simple - the need to pay wages for the next few months. "In terms of the company, it consists of local employees whose families have been hit hard by the pandemic as everyone else's. My mother certainly didn't pressure anyone to cut during the period of bird nesting - when one job ended, the next one was simply picked up."

Mikita states that the newsworthiness comes from his name.

"And for that reason I will take responsibility. I don't have to be convinced of the fact that an early felling will affect the amount of birds and that's the same in Europe as well. What's the solution? I do not support a complete ban on cutting in private forests, but I propose that if forest owners would not receive an income tax incentive (or if it was taxed in other ways), the free market would arrange it itself. That would leave timber companies enough time to plan other actions for that time."


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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