Forestry industry: Environmentalists obstructing sector unnecessarily

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Tree-felling in progress in Pärnu County.

Tree-felling in Estonia's forests has been hampered unnecessarily by environmentalists, the head of a timber sector lobby group says.

Raul Kirjanen, board chair of Estonian Timber (EMPL) wrote in a letter to economic affairs minister Taavi Aas (Center) that: "We are of the opinion that the Environmental Board must not have such a power in the rule of law that closes a significant part of the economic sector without any prior notice, often without consideration of administrative acts."

The Environmental Board (Keskkonnaamet) is the body which issues felling permits and which, as its name suggests, is under the environment ministry's remit, and not Aas' ministry.

Kirjanen, who is also a majority shareholder of wood-based pellets manufacturer Graanul Invest, added that suspending tree-felling jobs has a severe socio-economic impact, making over 30,000 employees in the forestry sector absent from work for months at a stretch.

The ecologists' pressure is often misguided, he added, claiming that, for instance, bird nesting data is based on inaccurate or outdated analysis, or that landowners' representatives are often not present for on-site inspection.

The lack of felling will also lead to a deficit in biomass supply, which may lead to rising prices, Kirjanen added, while the competitiveness of the Estonian sector will suffer in relation to the Nordic countries.

The EMPL also expects compensation measures resulting from the restrictions on felling which, it said, should be applied with sufficient notice to enable the sector to build the necessary infrastructure, change the terms of sales contracts and adapt production processes.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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