SDE MP hits out at new forest plan committee from day one

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Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A new forestry development plan to replace the largely-panned version drawn up near the end of the Center/EKRE/Isamaa administration has already encountered hostility from at least one opposition MP, mainly due to the committee tasked with authoring the plan has left out environmentalists and other stakeholders, the MP, Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) says.

Environment minister Tõnis Mölder (Center) has set up a new forestry development plan; steering committee, which aims to produce its findings by year-end 2022.

Mölder said that the committee's make-up is based on consultations with heads of various universities as well as the Estonian Academy of Sciences (Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia) in Tallinn, and includes researchers from the University of Helsinki, as well as from the University of Tartu and the University of Life Sciences (Maaülikool, also in Tartu – ed.).

Estonia's forest covers around 50 percent of the land area and is a significant facet in the national psyche. About 40 percent of it is administered by state forestry commission the RMK. Protests about mismanagement by both the RMK and other foresters, including the private sector, are not uncommon.

Despite its eco-friendly-sounding name, the environment ministry is a key player in the process of the doling out of major contracts for different infrastructure projects.

The new planning committee balanced, Mölder said, but not everyone agrees.

Opposition MP Jevgeni Ossinovski (SDE) says the committee violates the relevant legislation and excludes relevant interest groups, particularly environmental organizations.

"Formally, there's nothing much to argue over here. It's an illegal directive, and I hope these stakeholders go to court to repeal it," Ossinovski told ERR's online Estonian news Wednesday.

Tõnis Mölder (Center), current environment minister. Source: ERR

While the new committee is hardly any worse than its predecessor, disbanded by former environment minister Rain Epler (EKRE) at the end of last year due to, Epler said, an unwillingness to compromise, Ossinovski - who thought the Epler-canned committee was too large and unwieldy - said the environment ministry still needs to assert itself, he said.

"The Ministry of the Environment did not really lead the process, but rather simply offered coffee and sandwiches and set up a chat room where ideas could be bounced around," Ossinovski went on.

"And as soon as they started getting somewhere, they (i.e. the environment ministry – ed.) simply pulled the plug on it … it is very ugly."

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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