|Public letter to EstonianGovernment and Parliament|
We, Swedish and Finnish environmental organizations, want to express our deep concern regarding the situation of the Estonian forestry. Forests in Estonia have in recent past been subject to overexploitation and illegal forestry operations. The Estonian Minister of Environment has decided to move towards the liberal and intensive forestry model of Fennoscandia.
We are worried because changes in Estonian forest legislation clearly show following trends:
1) shortening of forest rotation periods
2) abolishing the planning principle from forest management
3) abolishing the landscape perspective in regulation of the management operations (e.g. maximum size clear cuts on different estates can be side by side without any strips of growing forest between them)
4) establishing clear cuts as the main forest cutting method
5) applying management practice that only considers two parameters for cuttings in commercial forests: average age and diameter of trees; all other environmental aspects are neglected
Some of the trends mentioned above have already been realized in our countries. As a result we have witnessed long-term negative impacts on our forest environment. The intensive forestry has among other things lead to the following:
1) Over 1800 forest dependent animal and plant species in Sweden and more than 1100 forest dependent species in Finland are threatened by the forestry. The current extinction debt of forest species in Finland is around 900 species, which means that 900 species in the long-term will disappear if there will not be an increase of natural and semi-natural forest areas.
2) Only 5 percent of the high conservation value forests, that is old growth and natural forests, remain in Sweden and loggings are continuously taking place in these areas. The situation is similar in Finland. In the South of Finland there are very few high conservation value forests left, and the number of these are still decreasing. The ones that are remaining are mostly fragmented and small. Especially moist and nutrient rich old growth forests are lost in most areas in Finland.
3) Our forests also have recreational values for outdoor life and tourism, which should not be forgotten. For example, tourism is in some cases more important for the local people than forestry. However, clear cuts could destroy their source of livelihood. Clear-cuts do not make anyone happy.
Although we support the measures that the Estonian government has taken to protect old valuable forests, we urge you not to abolish the principle of forest management plans for commercial cuttings, since this will seriously threaten the biodiversity of your forests. A large volume of Estonian timber products find their market in our countries. We therefore show our concern about the trends in Estonia, and urge you not to use the same forestry model that we use in Fennoscandia, which in the long-term will lead to impoverished forest ecosystem, with less life, health and joy for everyone.
Lennart Daleus, Executive director, Greenpeace Nordic
Linda Ellegaard Nordström, Chairperson, Nature and Youth Sweden
Lotta Nummelin, Director, Natur och Miljö
Petra Yliportimo, Secretary General, Finnish Nature League
Risto Sulkava, President of the Board, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation