A coalition council decision Monday means the Estonian forestry development plan to 2030 is to go to the cabinet, and then the Riigikogu, in its current form. Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) says keeping annual logging volumes at nine million cubic meters is key in meeting climate goals
Kallas told ERR that: "Following thorough coalition council discussions, the decision was made that the forestry development plan will be put to the government's agenda on Thursday, after which the government can submit it to the Riigiklogu."
Kallas added that no additions were made to the forestry development plan as was. "It should be with the government on Thursday, in the form it was presented earlier," he went on.
The amount of felling must certainly ensure the fulfillment of climate goals - meaning the annual amount of felling should remain at 9 million cubic meters, which is less than has been annually cut in Estonia to date.
Kallas said: "Whatever the amount of felling will be in the future, it must be one which ensures the preservation of the ecosystem, the richness of life and the fulfillment of climate goals."
"Ensuring this preservation of the ecosystem must be constantly monitored, and based on this, the necessary decisions can be made. As an addendum to the development plan, the amount of felling having to be uniform and between nine and 11[million tonnes] was inserted, but current studies say that in order to ensure biodiversity, the preservation of the ecosystem and climate goals, the felling volume will be more like 9 million tonnes [per annum," the minister went on.
It is up to the government as to what the actual felling volume will be. The current annual logging volume in Estonia stands at 10–12 million cubic meters, ie. higher than the planned volume.
Whereas the previous forestry development plan project included as a specific metric the area of the economic forest not decreasing as a proportion of the area of the general forest, this metric is not present in the final version of the new development plan to 2030.
Kallas said: "This metric would have made it very difficult to make any decisions, including, for example, taking additional areas or additional forest massifs under protection. If there is a need to protect, we will do so, and if there is no need to protect, then of course we don't install that anywhere. So clear and a strong red lines would essentially have halted certain processes, and we would not have been able to take additional steps if there were any need for that."
While the idea of uniform forest use is essentially valid, it also means a uniform reduction of felling volume, he continued. "The primary goal that I just mentioned clearly and unambiguously states that the biodiversity of the ecosystem, plus climate goals, must be guaranteed. If it is necessary to cut nine and a half million, or less than nine million [cubic meters of] trees, then this must be carried out.
The necessary monitoring would be primarily be Kallas' ministry's responsibility. "Perhaps somewhat more analysis and monitoring will have to be done in the future, but we know that, in fact, Europe wants to bring forest monitoring and forest data analysis on to a more unified basis. There have been many questions and a lot of controversy surrounding this, so we are trying to move in a direction where there are at least such a large number of different opinions and understandings regarding statistics and data," Kallas added.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mari Peegel