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Marran: If state forests ecology worsens, management will be reduced

Mikk Marran.
Mikk Marran. Source: Priit Luts/RMK

Forest management will have to be adjusted in response to our ecological indicators, which means that consensus-building among various stakeholders is not paramount in the question of forest management, Mikk Marran, chair of the State Forest Management Center (RMK), said in an interview with ERR.

"One of my goals, together with the board, is to be able to bring together all the knowledge that the RMK has, both on the conservation side and on the forest management side. So that these people can sit around the table on a daily basis to discuss things and come to the best conclusion about what to do, where, and when," Marran said.

Marran pointed out that the RMK does not seek a science-based consensus between forest managers and ecologists about the best way forward.

"I don't think we will find such a consensus, but it is important /.../ that we keep monitoring the ecological condition of our forests and lands and if the ecological status is good, we can plan activities and volumes of activities accordingly. If the ecological status worsens, the index gets worse, then we also have to reduce our forest management activities," Marran said.

"And I don't think it is a matter of any consensus which needs to be reached. The indicators are pointing in one direction or another and we have to act accordingly. This is how we want to go forward in the RMK," he said.

This forest ecological index includes different elements. For example, how much old forest is there in a five-by-five kilometer square, whether there are drainage systems, how many semi-natural habitats there are, and how much of anything else there is in terms of ecological diversity? Through this system, we can start to give scores, he also said.

Marran said that the RMK's work is starting to change: "The way we do our work, plan our activities, manage our forests – our handwriting – is starting to change," he said.

Although he did not say that the RMK so far has been overly focused on the industry, he does believe that ecologists and conservationists have not been adequately represented.

"In this new framework, we can do things better," he said.

Marran promised to reduce deforestation, but at the same time, he said that clear-cutting will definitely stay in the RMK's portfolio when it comes to managing commercial forests.

"Clear-cutting is the fastest way to get new forest to grow. And it is also the most economically optimal way to manage forests," he said.

Johannes Tralla, the host of the program, asked what the volume of felling should be in state forests over the next five years.

"The right balancing point depends on what the RMK's commercial forest portfolio will be in one, two or five years' time, because that is the basis for our calculations," he said.

"However, if we take today's numbers, the amount would be between 9,000 and 10,000 hectares for the next five years," Marran said.

The Ministry of Climate has set the owner's expectation for RMK to generate revenue for the state. Marran said, that the State Budget Strategy (RES) foresees that over the next four years and so the RMK will pay €38 million plus taxes as dividends to the state budget, while this year the RMK contributes €75 million plus taxes to the national budget. The numbers are decreasing, he said, but the state can take out extraordinary dividends if necessary.

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Editor: Aleksander Krjukov, Kristina Kersa

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