RMK chief: I will seek extra logging volume for bark beetle damage
Chairman of the board of the State Forest Management Center (RMK) Mikk Marran told ERR in an interview that he will likely ask Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) for extra logging volume for forests with bark beetle damage. Marran said that the minister's decision to slash felling volumes will cost RMK €10 million.
Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas on Wednesday approved the next five years' state forests logging volume at 9,180 hectares, down from 10,490 hectares the previous period. The actual figure has fluctuated between 11,100 and 10,500 hectares from one year to the next, which puts the average reduction at 17 percent.
Marran said he is glad a decision was finally made, even though the agency suggested a logging area of 10,250 hectares itself.
"Logging volume has become a heated political topic by this fall and seen considerable variation. The sector and RMK would like more stability to be able to plan its work and for its customers and partners to know what to expect in terms of contract volume for next year and the next five years," the RMK chief said.
Asked how the reduction will affect RMK's work, Marran said the forests manager simply needs to decide which mature forests can wait a little longer before being logged. "But it is clear that we will be able to renew fewer mature forests and have to postpone logging. Very broadly speaking, it could mean that timber that could be turned into furniture and musical instruments today will be used for heating instead in the future." Marran suggested that certain species of trees will simply spoil over time, so to speak, which is the risk Estonia takes with the decision.
The RMK chief added that while the reduction mainly concerns pine forests, which decisions is sensible as pine keeps growing for a long time, things are more problematic with fir forests and bark beetle damage they have sustained. "Once we get a better overview of beetle damages [in spruce forests] in the coming months, I will likely ask the minister for extra logging volume to deal with bark beetle damage.
Marran also said that while RMK enters into five-year contracts for the sale of timber, they constitute a framework, with quantities to be delivered agreed three times a year, meaning that the minister's decision to slash logging volumes does not cause it to violate any obligations.
RMK is looking at a reduction in revenue of approximately €15 million as a result of the decision, Marran said. Because expenses are also set to fall as a result of lower workload, RMK's profit is forecast to shrink by €10 million.
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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov