Ecological NGO calls for balance on long-term forestry plan committee

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Forest in Estonia (photo is illustrative). Source: Mirjam Mäekivi/ERR

An environmental group has called for balance in controversy over environment minister Rain Epler's (EKRE) decision to wind up a steering committee tasked with drafting a long-term national forestry development plan.

The NGO, "Päästame Eesti Metsad" ("Save Estonia's forests") said that the steering committee had been poorly balanced, adding that it welcomes a replacement as per Epler's plans.

The new committee should consist of advocates of ecological, cultural, economic and social assets of forests in equal measure, the NGO says, with representatives of the areas each accounting for around a quarter of the committee membership, spokespeople for the organization told BNS on Tuesday.

As reported on ERR News, Epler said the original steering committee had been too slow in its activities in overseeing the implementation of the national forestry development plan for the period until 2030, commonly known as MAK2030, on Monday.

However, another environmental organization, "Eesti Metsa Abiks" (EMA), at least one of whose members had sat on the original committee, said the move had been motivated by a desire to pave the way for business interests, adding that if anyone had been incompetent it was Ministry of the Environment officials.

The long-term plan was intended to reduce timber cutting volumes.

"Päästame Eesti Metsad" commended the decision since the original committee did not have a balanced ratio of representatives of all four fields noted above, it said.

Representatives of forests' ecological assets numbered only three on the previous committee, out of 25 members in total, while representatives for social and cultural values were only slightly higher, at four.

One area that "Päästame Eesti Metsad" agreed with the EMA on was that the original committee's head, ministry deputy secretary Marku Lamp, bore responsibility for failures in the drafting process, evidenced by earlier calls for his resignation; "Päästame Eesti Metsad" said that the new head should be able to take the discussions forward and act as a neutral, balancing force.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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