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State forest 2024 felling quota unchanged at 9,180 hectares

A watchtower on RMK forest land.
A watchtower on RMK forest land. Source: Lii Roosa

The tree-felling quota for Estonian state forest in 2024 remains unchanged on 2023's figure, at 9,180 hectares.

The quota refers to state-managed (RMK) forest land only, and represents around 1 percent of Estonia's total forest (a little under half of Estonia's land area is classified as forest).

The Ministry of Climate confirmed the quota to the RMK in the final days of 2023.

The 2024 plan will see the RMK forgo renewal felling in restricted zones within areas under protection.

RMK board member Erko Soolmann said the intention here was to better assess biodiversity, both in protected forests managed forests in a broader sense.

Previously, up to 100 hectares per annum had been felled in restricted zones, Soolman noted, but this year no felling at all will affect these areas.

While the land area of felling has been set, the volume of timber this will yield in cubic meters will become clearer at year-end.

The RMK estimates 2023's figure here at around 3.5 million cubic meters of timber.

The 9,180 hectare quota is distributed by the RMK roughly equally across its three regions – Southwest, Southeast and Northeast.

Around three-quarters of the work will constitute renewal felling, with the remainder made up of maintenance and selective felling.

Maintenance felling is in any case significantly smaller and involves above-surface cutting, Soolmann added, while renewal felling varies from year to year and relates to factors such as the variety of tree species.

Last year, the RMK transferred €88 million in operating profit to state coffers, of which €73.7 million consisted of dividends and €14.3 million was made up of income tax calculated based on those dividends.

This year's dividend forecast is however lower, at €38 million in dividends, plus income tax.

Keit Kasemets, Ministry of Climate secretary general and a member of the RMK board noted that 2023 was a bumper year for state forest.

The market situation has also stabilized, he added, after the timber shortage in the second half of 2022, caused by the war in Ukraine, and the accompanying price rise.

The market has adapted to the war following the initial disruption to supply chains, and alternative sources have been found, Kasemets said.

Erko Soolmann concurred, saying: "The last perhaps two years have seen extremely high prices. This increase was quite sudden, but as of today prices have returned to their normal or usual level."

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Barbara Oja

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