State halts tree felling in planned Nursipalu training area expansion zone

Clear-cutting in progress in an Estonian forest.
Clear-cutting in progress in an Estonian forest. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The State Forest Management Center (RMK) has suspended felling in areas lying inside a planned military training area in South Estonia.

RMK director Mikk Marran informed Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) Friday morning of the decision made to suspend clear-cutting in all areas within a planned extension to the Nursipalu training area, used by the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), as well as those areas in the "buffer zone" lying just outside.

The latter will in any case require forested areas.

Marrand said:"We decided that until the requirements of the Nursipalu training ground were fully specified, the RMK would suspend clear-cutting in the planned expansion area. We will also proactively suspend all forestry work in the planned buffer zone, to help create a nearly 500-meter area, as per Ministry of Defense wishes."

Minister Kallas said that ongoing felling work in the area needs to stop, at least in part, as the plans continue to be formulated for the training area expansion.

Kallas said: "We also agreed with the Minister of Defense that we will intensify the cooperation between the two ministries, in relation to Nursipalu, so that all issues and concerns can be negotiated early and proactively through the next stages."

Up to now, RMK forest in Nursipalu, Võru County, has been managed in the same way as all other RMK land. The current forest stock was planted between 50 and 60 years ago, following clearing carried out by the Red Army, meaning it is now overwhelmingly a "middle-aged" pine forest.

While clear-cutting has been halted, the necessary thinning out felling will continue, a normal management practice to ensure forest continues to grow in a healthy way.

The current Nursipalu training area was recommissioned in the 2000s and covers an area of around 3,000 ha. The changed security situation has led to the planned tripling in size of the area, to bring it up to the same standard as the equivalent training zone in North Estonia.

This expansion means, however, a little over 20 households in the earmarked zone will have to sell their land to the state or be compensated in some way, for instance by receiving a like-for-like land swap elsewhere in Estonia.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

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