The Reform Party, Isamaa and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) agreed in coalition talks to reassess logging volumes for State Forest Management Center (RMK) forests set by former Minister of the Environment Erki Savisaar (Center) in late May, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said on Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Wednesday.
The three parties agreed during coalition talks to reasses RMK logging volumes. Under the new coalition agreement, the portfolio of minister of the environment will be going to the SDE, but it will not be up to the minister to determine logging volumes, Kallas said.
At the end of May, Savisaar confirmed the area of state forest to be allocated for regenerative logging. This area was reduced by 4 percent this year, as opposed to the 13 percent that had been projected at the beginning of the year.
"The adjustment of logging volumes should take social, ecological, environmental and economic policy objectives into account," Kallas said. "The minister of the environment should make recommendations to the government, but the decision ultimately rests with the government, not the minister."
Coalition talks on forestry issues failed to reach an agreement on logging quantities, however, due to difficulties with reaching a compromise between various interest groups, she continued.
"The forest is a mythological place for people, but it is also important to the forestry industry, which creates lots of jobs — this is where the balance must be found," she said.
The prime minister also noted that the EU's climate plan, particularly the section on forestry and land use, must be taken into account as well.
"This is the problem," she acknowledged. "To preserve Estonia's forests, we should adhere to the guiding principles of our forests being net CO2 binders and forest land not being depleted. The goal is to live in a clean environment."
It was decided in the course of coalition talks that a comprehensive forest development plan that had been in the works for years should now be completed and approved.
"We also decided to return to the development of a comprehensive forest strategy /.../ because there are many forest-related concerns," Kallas said. "So that all parties' interests can be taken into consideration, that the development plan can finally be completed and so that agreements regarding [logging] volumes can also be reached."
Editor: Kristina Kersa