Union: Forest management debate creates uncertainty for timber industry

Näpi Sawmill in Lääne-Viru County
Näpi Sawmill in Lääne-Viru County Source: Dmitri Fedotkin/ERR

The drawn-out discussion around forest management is creating uncertainty in the sector which is impacting businesses, the Estonian Forest and Wood Industries Association said on Wednesday. Two sawmills announced closures recently, creating at least 100 redundancies.

The Swedish-listed company Bergs Timber said on Wednesday that it will close the Laesti sawmill located in Sauga, Pärnu County. This will put 30 people out of work.

The firm blamed the unstable economic environment in Estonia and the lack of certainty over the availability of raw materials. 

In June, the Finnish forestry group Stora Enso said it will shut down its Näpi sawmill in Lääne-Viru County.

The Union said domestic issues have created a situation where Estonia is no longer an attractive country for industrial investments. Local companies are trailing behind the international competition.

"To be competitive, industry needs constant modernization, constant investment. In order to make these investments, there needs to be a degree of certainty about the future, that investors will be able to make a return on their investment. This very long debate on forest management has created this situation," Henrik Välja, head of the union, told Wednesday's "Aktuaalne kaamera".

Politicians have said lower added value products cannot be competitive, but Välja pushed back on this argument saying these products are first in the chain.

"First there's the sawmills, then maybe the planer, and then comes the house or the designer furniture or whatever. We can't say we don't value or need these first levels of value at all. They are also necessary to produce these higher value-added products later on," said Välja.


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Editor: Merili Nael, Helen Wright

Source: Aktuaalne kaamera

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