Minister says he hopes to persuade cabinet on RMK felling volume reduction

Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE).
Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) has proposed reducing tree felling volumes in state-owned forests.

Kallas has presented his proposals, which concern the state forestry commission, the RMK, to the cabinet, to reduce the logging area from next year to 9,180ha in RMK forests nationwide, down from the current 10,400ha.

Kallas said: "The proposal then will primarily reduced pine tree-felling volumes, and to some extent also birch volumes.

"In the case of spruce, volumes would remain roughly at the same level, as it would do with alder," he went on, adding that nonetheless spruce felling would be required in addition to the proposed quota to deal with damage inflicted by bark beetles.

This means that in reality felling volumes will have been 11,700ha for this year as opposed to the planned 10,400ha.

"In other words, we are still discussing whether [the additional spruce felling volume] would be 500ha or 1000ha, relating to the bark beetle damage, though the size this year's logging will still fall by around 10 percent.

At the same time, Kallas said the coalition partner parties are not in favor of reducing felling volumes as things stand, adding that he hoped to get the matter on the table today, Thursday, at the regular cabinet meeting.

While the felling quota document is due to be signed on Thursday also, this deadline is not certain, Kallas added, noting he is also discussing the issue with the RMK.

Kallas says he also wants to review RMK timber sales procurement processes, including a move towards greater preference to, for instance, companies engaged in district heating, at a time when natural gas, a commonly used fuel for this purpose, has seen soaring prices.

The RMK owns roughly half of Estonia's forested land.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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