Prime minister: Coalition agreement required to reduce felling volumes
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) said that lowering felling volumes is under the purview of the minister of the environment, but the coalition had previously decided that a coalition agreement was necessary. Unfortunately, the coalition could not reach a consensus on the subject.
"The minister of environment has the authority to establish felling volumes. Ministers have made these decisions on their own in the past. However, as a coalition government, we agreed to work on and discuss this issue collaboratively. We agreed that coalition approval was necessary before deciding on these figures," the prime minister said at a government press conference.
"In fact, I commend the minister for bringing a comprehensive forestry development plan into government, and it was our coalition's decision to send it to the Riigikogu, get it done, and provide clarity to the forestry sector; however, the Riigikogu determined that the bill could not be passed before the elections," Kallas said.
"I believe that this industry requires stability. The question for after the elections should be how to make it more stable, so that a new minister does not come in and change everything after the previous one," Kallas added.
"We should also discuss the issue in a broader context, in the sense that we want our wood to be used to make more valuable items. Perhaps the answer is to start measuring its carbon content. /.../ I know that the minister of the environment, in collaboration with RMK, has been considering creating this hierarchy in order to prioritize sectors that produce higher-value-added products."
Riina Solman (Isamaa), the minister of public administration, said that "taking such a stance in the run-up to the elections does not appear to be the wisest course of action. It is not as if people in favor of reducing felling are inherently good and those searching for a different approach, who want to keep jobs, are not," Solman said. She went on to give the example of Võru County, where the timber sector accounts for a large part of the labor market. "Local governments' revenue bases are dwindling precisely because each year 300 taxpayers are leaving the region. There, the issue of logging volumes is both painful and critical," Solman said.
In the absence of a coalition agreement, Minister of Environment Madis Kallas (SDE) decided on Wednesday, a week and a half before the elections, to use his statutory right to reduce the area of state forest felling from 10,490 hectares to 9,180 hectares over the next five years.
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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Kristina Kersa