Justice chancellor: State and private forest owners treated unequally

Forest in Estonia (photo is illustrative).
Forest in Estonia (photo is illustrative). Source: Laura Raudnagel/ERR

The current forestry registration system leads to unequal treatment of private forest owners compared with the state management center, the RMK, Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise says.

While the Estonian Environment Agency (Keskonnaagentuur) requires the submission of data on forest management works carried out over a 10-year period for private forest lands, this is not required of RMK lands.

The Chancellor of Justice said: "If it is not expedient or necessary to record those forest management works carried out within the allocation of state forest land entered in the national register, then this exception must be provided for via a norm, i.e. via a ministerial regulation."

"The agency lacks the right to deviate from the established norms, if the minister has not authorized that agency to do so, by regulation," Madise went on.

The justice chancellor says she expects the environment agency to either fulfill the instructions for forest management or, if necessary, alter the instructions.

Madise notes that deviating from the environmental agency's forest inventory guidelines is arbitrary and runs counter to the law.

The selective entry of forest inventory data into the national register in a way that data is required for private forests, but not for state forests, may lead to unequal treatment for forest managers.

The Chancellor of Justice cited by way of example that if the failure to submit data is considered a violation in the case of managers of private forest lands, this is not done in the case of state forests, while in the event of a violation, the environmental agency can invalidate the forest manager's certificate. 

This would mean restricting business freedoms and a distortion of competition.

In order to obtain data on the state of Estonia's forest, the size of its reserves, and to plan long-term forest management activities, stock must be inventoried and forestry management planned.

The forest inventory data is valid for 10 years, while data entered in the register must not be older than one year.

As noted, the Environment Agency requires data on forest management works performed over a 10-year period only in respect of private forest lands, but not from the RMK, even as the law does not contain such an exemption.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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