The State Forest Management Center (RMK) initiated a project this year which will see oil shale ash used for the construction of roads in state forests with the first section of road constructed in Viluvere, Pärnu.
Margus Reimann, head of the RMK Forest Improvement Department, told daily Postimees (link in Estonian): "For decades, we have used limestone leftover from oil shale mining when constructing forest roads, we also use geosynthetic materials to lengthen the life span of roads and to preserve costs on them."
Reimann added RMK develops and maintains over 300 km of forest roads each year using 600,000-700,000 cubic meters of gravel and if the State Forest Management Center could save even 10 percent, it would reduce the carbon footprint by around 100 tons a year.
He said the test section has been completed and the road they are now waiting for the ash to petrify.
TTK University of Applied Sciences (TTK UAS) is involved with the process, with lab testing and road condition monitoring done by the school after the test section is finished.
Most new RMK roads built in Ida-Viru County
RMK maintains a total of close to 12,000 km of roads across Estonia, with an annual investment nearing €20 million. This year, the center will maintain approximately 300 km of roads, with more than half of them in Ida-Viru County, ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Sunday.
Margus Reimann said Ida-Viru is relatively forested when compared to the rest of Estonia, with several large state forests in the region. "The larger the state forests are, the larger the felling volume. And based on that, RMK will invest in this county."
The forest roads are also used by local residents, cyclists, hikers, and people going to gather mushrooms or berries. WRC Rally Estonia (September 4-6) will also use some of the roads in state forests. Reimann noted that different groups call for different road coverings, but the RMK looks at it from a forest development angle.
He explained: "We get different letters each year. The roads are bad and not smooth enough for cars. The roads are bad, you can't cycle on them. There are large rocks on roads, they are tough on the foot while walking. And then drivers of large trucks say the roads are bad and are not capable of carrying the vehicles. We have to find compromises.
"We can not meet everyone halfway and we have set a goal of ensuring that our own, RMK's, interests are looked after, meaning forestry trucks and felling transport can use the forest roads. We have also developed a few recreational roads, with leisure activities in mind."
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste