MPs criticize environment minister's tree felling target proposal

Environment Minister Madis Kallas (Reform).
Environment Minister Madis Kallas (Reform). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Plans drawn up by the Minister of Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) to reduce state logging volumes by 10 percent are being queried by both the coalition and opposition.

Last month, the minister wanted to leave logging targets unchanged but last week he announced a reduction of 9,200 hectares.

This is seen as an attempt to score political points by all sides, Tuesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported.

On Tuesday, he could not say if the rest of the coalition support his plan.

"We haven't discussed it very much. There are certainly different views. I am, after all, the Minister for the Environment, a person who must first and foremost stand up for Estonia's environment. Of course, this must also be balanced with socio-economic aspects, but certainly the minister of economic affairs, the minister of finance, maybe some other ministers also have their own points of view," Kallas said.

Autumn leaves. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

So far, the plan has been criticized by the wood industry, which called for stability, and members of his own coalition.

Kristen Michal (Reform Party), chairman of the Riigikogu's Economic Committee, said the constantly changing situation was strange and questioned how the public viewed it.

"How can the public take this seriously when different ministers have different numbers, which keep changing, and the ministers' positions change from month to month?" he said.

Isamaa's Andres Metsoja, chairman of the environmental committee, said an agreement was reached was supposed to have been reached when the coalition agreement was drawn up.

"There was a clear agreement when we formed this coalition that we should stop juggling these numbers and that we should come to a holistic understanding of what makes sense for the Estonian economy, for the ecosystem, and for the economy as a whole," he said.

Kristen Michal (Reform). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Members of the opposition also agreed.

Former Minister of the Environment Erki Savisaar (Center) increased the volume under his term, which ended this summer. He said it is not wise to reduce the target at the moment.

"The price of timber is already high and this decision will push it even higher. It is already difficult for our people facing this winter, facing next winter, which will certainly not be much easier. It is certainly not sensible to create instability in society in this way," Savisaar said.

The ministry must make a final decision by December.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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