Organizations: Rural life suffocated by excessive restrictions

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Sheep. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

Organizations associated with Estonian rural and coastal life state in a joint address to the president, Riigikogu and government, that most of Estonia's environmental pressure and pollution stems from cities, but responsibility is placed largely on the shoulders of people in rural regions.

The address states that more and more restrictions are imposed on Estonian residents in rural and coastal regions each year. In addition, rural representatives are not included in the discussions and increasing power is given to narrow interest groups.

"Yet it is the everyday activities of people in rural and coastal region that balances the environmental effect of the modern person and ensures city residents the necessary food and a warm room," the address reads.

Estonian Farmers' Union CEO Kerli Ats said Estonian people value local and fresh food, specie-diverse nature, wood houses and environmentally friendly room heat, but unaware restrictions are currently imposed on the activities of people in rural and coastal regions that stand in the way of them producing these services.

"There are tendencies spreading, where unreasonable restrictions intended to decrease animal husbandry are imposed on the sector due to the pressure of activists. Activists are not hiding their true motive of trying to pass through systematic change to reduce meat consumption, with the ultimate goal of moving towards veganism," the statement reads.

"Yet, animal husbandry has an inevitable role in the circular economy when it comes to producing domestic food and local organic fertilizer, maintaining soil fertility and biodiversity and decreased animal husbandry has already caused a decline in the numbers of insects, birds, amphibians and plant species.

The organizations state that in the case of over-regulation, the sustainability of local Estonian seaside villages will also suffer.

"Creation of the restricted areas in question and the government's plan to decrease historically established fishing rights through the Penal Code will kill traditional fishing by professional fishermen. At the same time, the state has neglected the damage caused to coastal areas and fisheries by a foreign species to Estonia - cormorants," the statement reads.

The statement also addresses a possible extension to the Alutaguse National Park and the creation of new permanent habitats, that has caused local residents much worry. "The locals are worried about job retention and compensation for loss of income due to restrictions. Yet, extending the national park is planned without socio-economic effect analyses," the statement reads.

The joint statement has been signed by the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, the Estonian Farmers' Union, the Estonian Hunters' Society, the Association of Fisheries of Gulf of Liivi, the Estonian Private Forest Association and the Estonian Owners' Association.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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