A RECENT HISTORY OF ESTONIAN FORESTS AND THEIR REFLECTIONS, 1900-2019

  • 1900: The Waldhof spruce-based pulp mill starts working in Pärnu, causing various environmental problem, but being at that time the most modern pulp mill in the Russian Empire.
  • 1915: During the First World War the equipment of the mill is evacuated to Perm, Russia and the building is blown up at 8/20/1915 while the German naval forces approach.
  • 11/13/1918: The Estonian National Forest Directorate is established.
  • 1920: Nationalizing the manors’ forests will raise the percentage of state forests to 88%.
  • 1922-1938: Forest products make up about 30% of Estonia’s exports.
  • 1924: Forest scientist Paul Reim proposes the creation of a few larger forest preserves. Paul Reim, Looduskaitse ja metsandus – Eesti Mets 1924, nr 1 (lk 3–4), nr 2 (lk 12–14).
  • 9/26/1924: On the initiative of prof. A. Mathiesen, Järvselja primary forest preserve is established (originally 12,8 hectares, since year 2006 184,4 hectares). This was the first Estonian forest preserve. 
  • 1928: Forestry researcher Oskar Daniel brings up the problem of overlogging at a Forest Researchers Day, backed by claims of two other researchers. Eesti Metsanduse aastaraamat III. Akadeemiline Metsaselts, Tartu, 1928
  • 1934: The Republic of Estonia adapts its first Forest Act.
  • 1935-1938: A heating crisis, firewood prices doubling yearly
    http://mihkelkunnus.blogspot.com/2018/10/kristjan-piirimae-metsakriisi-eest.html
  • 1938: A pinewood-based pulp mill is opened at Kehra, which is operating to this day. Loggable spruce reserves practically exhausted.
  • 23/06/1940: Soviet power nationalizes all Estonian forests and Soviet forest law becomes active over the forests. The Second World War was the most intensive period of logging, to be surpassed only during the restored independence. 
  • 1941-1956: Men, over 15 000 in total hide in the Estonian forests, either from mobilization into foreign armies or general repression, engaging in guerilla warfare.
  • 1951: A change in reforesting paradigm: planting replaces the previously dominant sowing.
  • 1962: Heino Teder becomes the General Governor of the Directorate of Forestry and Conservation of the Estonian SSR. His rule lasts until 1988, he ends the overlogging that took place during the previous era and creates several conservation areas, but places an overly large emphasis on forest drainage, which he himself later admits. Having forestry and conservation at the same ministry was later emulated by other countries and the Estonian forest management system was shown as exemplary in other Soviet republics.
  • 1966: The Estonian Conservation Society is founded as the first non-state civil organization allowed at the Estonian SSR, which allows cooperation of people from various ideological backgrounds and quickly achieves mass membership. http://www.elks.ee/
  • 1967: The largest local storm in living memory fells about 3 million cubic meters of forest, damaging about 2,5% of the total forest reserve.
    https://epl.delfi.ee/eesti/1967-aasta-augustiorkaan-niitis-maha-kolm-miljonit-tihumeetrit-metsa?id=50806371
  • 6/01/1971: Lahemaa National Park is created — the first one and largest in Estonia.
  • 1979: Mats Traat publishes the novel “Trees Were, Trees Were Tender Brothers”, situated in the middle of 19th century and centered on a young orphaned serf whose horse is caught under a falling tree in the first chapter while he is felling trees for the baron’s vodka mill. He blames the farmhand for it and they develop an enmity. The protagonist is also at fault, though, as the tree spirit spoke to him — his family still upheld the faith of the land god, although they had estranged from interpreting his will and reading his signs. The land god sets the protagonists house on fire and has him sent to Siberia over his various failings. A theatrical play and a film are also made after the book.
    http://www.estlit.ee/elis/?cmd=book&id=56307
  • 1980: The first forest harvester reaches Estonia, then yet under Soviet rule
  • 1980s: Picking berries and shrooms is the main source of revenue for 3000-5000 people.
  • 1990 summer: Sylvester is formed by Mati Polli, Kaido Jõeleht, Peeter Mänd, Urmas Nimmerfeldt and Uno Holmberg. This firm will go on to be the most successful forest and timber operation of Estonian early post-Soviet capitalism.
  • 1991: The Estonian Fund for Nature is founded.
  • 1992: The first environment minister of independent Estonia, Toomas Frey, leader of the Estonian Green Movement, enacts a ban on roundwood exports. The ban is cancelled on the same year by the next government.
  • Leonhard Polli, a character known in Estonian environmental circles a the main local antagonist of the 1970s “swamp war”, starts the Homestead Forest Association, which is later renamed to Private Forest Association – a forest industry lobby organization.
  • 1996: There’s a decision to do away with the institution of forest rangers, the whole 2000 of them are to lose their jobs. The man carrying the decision out is Andres Onemar, the main coordinator of the forestry development program. A 2003 World Bank report lists about a 50% tax revenue loss as a side-effect of the low number of forest officials. Lithuania initiated the process of liquidating the forest rangers only in 2017 or so, for comparison.
  • 6/11/1997: A frame document for Estonian forest policy is adopted, which has sustainability, incl. biological sustainability, as one of its foundations.
    https://www.riigiteataja.ee/akt/73663
  • 1998: Rein Ahas (Estonian Green Movement) publishes “Underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation in Estonia:
    A local level case study in Põlva county”
    http://www.roheline.ee/forest/deforest.html
  • 1999: Led by Andres Onemar again, the State Forest Management Centre is created. State forest management is being centralized. The forest inventory is no longer taken manually, but by a statistical method, the Statistical Forest Inventory. According to a 2003 World Bank report, it shows 30% more increment than the old method. Forestry rhetoric allows to use a larger increment value to justify greater logging volumes.
  • May 1999: Forest war is declared on the media. Nineteen years later, the landscape ecologist Anneli Palo says it never really ended. Aarne Ots. Metsasõda? – Eesti Loodus 1999, nr 5, lk 191.
  • 1999-2000: Yearly logging rates reach 12 Mm3/y. At the same time, the General Director of the Forest Board tells the media that only 6 Mm3 is being logged – actually it was just the volume of clear cuts.
  • A group of scientific and environmental orgs first campaign for a seasonal logging ban to protect nesting wildlife. A few years later, a 2-month logging ban at state forests is enacted – about ¼ of the original objective.
  • The first Forestry Development Plan agrees to raising the percentage of strictly protected forest to 10%, which is enacted as well. The maximum logging volume is set to 12,6 Mm3, but will not reach it during the decade. A party to both the 2010 and 2020 development plans has said that the first one was still democratic.
  • Asko Lõhmus remarked in 2019 that “by the end of the 1990s, a very favourable starting position had developed for sustainable development in our forestry, in terms of the condition of forest ecosystems, cultural environment and forms of property as well. That platform should have been the basis of an innovative market strategy for the 21st century. For example, Michael Gallagher has described that way of thought as follows: “[…] we can sell ourselves as “the little nation that can” solve huge problems, not make them worse.”
  • 2000: Forest manager Lembit Maamets writes: “If there are no certain rules for managing over 30% of land area, then it is not a problem of using or controlling, but an environmental problem.”
  • 2/29/2000: The two last remaining “forest brothers” are captured by the police. The Voitka brothers went to hide in the forest at 1986 to avoid serving at the Soviet army.
  • 5/4/2001: The Reform Party Minister of Environment says that 38% of Estonia’s forests should be logged in a few following years. Rainer Kuuba, a forest specialist of the Estonian Fund for Nature replies that reasonable management would allow no more logging than 1,5% yearly or 30 000 hectares. https://epl.delfi.ee/eesti/kranich-lubaks-ule-kolmandiku-metsast-maha-raiuda?id=50802894
  • 8/01/2001: The Environmental Inspectorate reports that several forest owners have been noted to exploit stormthrow to illegally log forests untouched by the storm.
    https://www.vooremaa.ee/juhtkiri-tormimurd-loob-puiduhinna-alla/
  • 2002: A fine of 300 euros was charged from a person who repeatedly organised more than 30 ha illegal fellings in the oldest and biggest
    Lahemaa National Park of Estonia.
  • An opinion poll finds that 82% of Estonian residents find nature sacred or imbued with spirit, 25% of them connect that spirituality with God. Weaver, Alicia A. (2002) Determinants of environmental attitudes. International Journal of Sociology, 32(1), 77-108.
  • 12/19/2002: 66% of Sylvester AS, one of the most successful timber firms of Estonia and all of its wood procuring enterprises are sold to Stora Enso Timber. The rest of the firm is bought up by the Swedes in 2005. The total value of the deal was 177 million euros, according to Äripäev.
    https://www.aripaev.ee/uudised/2017/12/11/eesti-edulugu-nimega-sylvester
  • 2003-2004: Some legislative attempts are made to obtain larger state control over forest use.
  • February 2003: A World Bank report is published which shows 50% of unpaid taxes on wood as the consequence of a low number of forest officials             http://docplayer.net/16025858-The-impact-of-large-scale-forest-industry-investments-on-world-bank-wwf-alliance-targets-and-recommendations-for-investment-safeguards-a-report.html THE IMPACT OF LARGE-SCALE FOREST INDUSTRY INVESTMENTS ON WORLD BANK / WWF ALLIANCE TARGETS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR INVESTMENT SAFEGUARDS, A REPORT BASED ON AN EXAMPLE IN THE BALTIC STATES, Gland, Switzerland and Washington DC, USA, February 2003.
  • 5/21/2003: The State Forest Management Centre fires its financial auditor for uncovering several infringements. https://arileht.delfi.ee/archive/rmk-laseb-kriitikud-lahti?id=5725826
  • 11/25/2003: Graanul Invest is formed, and about on the same time, Pellet Invest, which later merge. This will become one of the largest pellet producers in the world.
  • 2004: The building of the aspenwood pulp mill Estonian Cell begins (production starts in 2006), which will in combination with poor protection measures contribute to the dwindling of Estonia’s flying squirrel populations.
  • 1/19/2005: Oven 1 million cubic meters of stormthrow reported at Estonian forests, which will bring down wood prices.
    https://www.vooremaa.ee/juhtkiri-tormimurd-loob-puiduhinna-alla/
  • June 2005: A study is published, estimating that in the period of 1999-2003, half of all wood extracted from Estonian private forests was likely to have been „related to one or more forms of illegal forestry“, either tax evasion, illegal logging or violating logging restrictions. https://www.jstor.org/stable/43739505?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents The structure and estimated extent of illegal forestry in Estonia 1998-2003, H. HAIN and R. AHAS, The International Forestry Review Vol. 7, No. 2 (June 2005), pp. 90-100
  • 12/15/2005: Aleksander Sinimäe, a retired forester, wins at the Estonian Supreme Court, winning a special public office holder pension to 2400 former forest rangers and higher forest officials. They were left out of the list at 1996.
  • 9/21/2007: The National Audit Office publishes a worrying audit report, which finds that „though the State Forest Management Centre, being dependent on the forest sales revenue, takes its own stock, plans, logs and sells state forest, the continuation of that situation may threaten the survival and sustainable management of the state forest.“
  • 2008: The 2008 Forest Act amendment does away with the category of ‘protection forest’, which was a category for non-nature conservation purposes, like noise blocking etc, leaving those forests open to logging. Those measures could be re-enacted via planning process, but most Estonians don’t know enough about those to be included.
    Forest management plans are made non-compulsory.
  • 5/05/2008: Finnish and Swedish environmentalists send an open letter to Estonian government and parliament, in which they warn of the threats accompanying the Scandinavian forestry model, towards which Estonia is continuously striving: „We […] express our deep concern over the state of Estonian forests“, write representatives of five different environmental organizations.
  • 6/04/2008: The National Audit Office publishes another report, which finds that there are important deficiencies in the Natura 2000 network, specifically concerning the protection of forest species. „Worsening of the condition of habitats displays the low efficiency of state’s nature conservation“, the audit exclaims. „By the National Audit Office’s estimate, the main cause of the problems is the Ministry of the Environment’s deficient activity on coordinating the Natura process and overview already since its beginning on year 2000.“
  • 2009: Under the leadership of Andres Onemar, the Environmental Board is created, thus centralizing the environmental office of the government. Onemar starts to lead his creation as its General Director, remaining in office for 10 years.
  • The Auvere co-firing station gets a green light from the government, being the largest state investment ever. It is a poor investment, however, and opposed by both the state energy company’s board and council.
  • 2/13/2009: Jaanus Tamkivi, a Reform Party Minister of Environment, appoints Andres Talijärv, the chief executive of Estonian Forest Industries Association to the post of Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment.
  • 2010-2012: Wood is being burned at Eastern Estonian power stations on state subsidies, resulting in a statewide price hike of 7 euros/m3. It is ended mostly due to pressure from pulp and pellet industries.
  • 3/05/2010: Investigators suspect the State Forest Management Centre of the largest cartel arrangement in Estonia’s history
  • 9/14/2010: The National Audit Office publishes another audit, which says it straight: „By the National Audit Office’s estimate the SFMC does not manage state forests sustainably, which jeopardizes the future generations’ possibilities of using the state forest.“The then environment minister rejects the audit organs’ suggestions: „Fulfilling the National Audit Office’s suggestions would presume changing the long-term development trajectories confirmed by the Parliament, therefore the Ministry of the Environment does not see it possible to enact them“, Tamkivi finds.
  • 2/19/2010: Mati Polli, CEO of OÜ Tristafan and one of Estonia’s largest forest industrialists is appointed as the SFMC’s Chairman of the Board.
  • On 2011, when the new forestry development plan is about to be adopted – one which prescribes an even more intensive forest management – the National Audit Office suggests the Parliament to reject it. Journalists, environmental NGO-s and active citizens protest the plan, but state ignores the protests. The media points to the fact that Andres Talijärv, who led the development plan process, is closely tied to forest and timber business interests.
  • January 2011: A member of the Estonian Red List panel, Uudo Timm, reports at the forestry journal “Estonian Forest” that most of Estonian endangered species are forest-related, due to the decrease of age and diversity of the forest layer.
  • 2/15/2011: The Parliament approves the Estonian Forestry Development Plan until 2020
  • The Parliament didn’t care about the National Audit Office’s warnings, Andrus Karnau https://majandus24.postimees.ee/388811/parlament-vilistas-riigikontrolli-soovitusele
  • 3/06/2011: The Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment justifies the deals with firms suspected of cartel agreement https://majandus24.postimees.ee/233468/keskkonnaministeeriumi-kantsler-oigustab-lepinguid-kartellikahtlusega-firmadega
  • 7/27/2011: One can log a stranger’s forest with almost no penalties (when caught in the act, the wood wasn’t taken yet, so no theft, as the forest was mature, the Environmental Inspectorate doesn’t deal with that, as there is no environmental damage) Hendrik Kuusk, Saarte Hääl. https://www.saartehaal.ee/2011/07/27/voorast-metsa-voib-raiuda-pea-karistamatult/
  • 8/15/2011: Firewood prices are making records, Tiit Tamberg, Õhtuleht https://www.ohtuleht.ee/439297/kuttepuu-hind-teeb-rekordeid
  • 10/18/2011: The National Audit Office assessed the Forestry Development Plan as unsustainable, delfi.ee
  • 2013: The writer Valdur Mikita publishes a best-selling book “Linguistic forest” on Estonians’connection to forest and the resulting way of being.
  • 3/06/2013: The forestry and conservation expert of the Estonian Fund for Nature writes on the opinion page of Postimees of her „illusory involvement“ experience and the forest industrialists’ dominance in crafting forest legislation.
  • 06/13/2013: Reform Party Minister of Environment, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, promotes Andres Talijärv to the post of General Secretary of the Ministry of the Environment.
  • 11/20/2013: The Parliament approves a Forest Act amendment. The changes in legislation largely derive from the measures prescribed by the EFDP2020 and aim at boosting logging volumes and relaxing logging restrictions. Riigikogu võtab vastu metsaseaduse muudatuse.
  • In 2015 a new amendment will go into works, which aims at further easing of logging restrictions, also lowering the rotation age of stands (originally *all* stands, later just spruce stands. It is worth mentioning that spruce is the most valuable, and most overlogged tree of Estonian forests.
  • 4/30/2015: Village in trouble with the smoke from the Baltics’ most modern pellet factory, Rein Raudvere, Maaleht. Back in 2014, the Osula Graanul pellet mill was erected in Osula, Southern Estonia, without an Environmental Assessment nor a spatial plan, which were instead committed post factum http://maaleht.delfi.ee/news/maaleht/uudised/kula-on-hadas-baltimaade-moodsaima-pelletitehase-tossuga?id=71344943
  • 6/16/2015: Linda-Mari Väli publishes an article on the state of Estonia’s forests and forestry policy, which Asko Lõhmus later refers to as the starting point of the ensuing forestry polemic.
  • 3/23/2016: The environmental NGOs summon a large round table to discuss the upcoming Forest Act amendment. To the surprise of the participants, a few larger forest owner/entrepeneurs also appear, mostly worried about the spruce tree felling age lowering and the general reduction in coniferous stands.
  • On the same date, OÜ Lignator Mets sends its position on the FA amendment to the MoE. The foresters find that forest management should be sustainable and rather in a more conservative line. The logging resulting from the amendment is largely done on the expense of the future and will finally lead to the contraction on Estonia’s forest and timber industries.
  • 5/4/2016: The Estonian Fund for Nature presents their position on the FA amendment, directing the Minister’s and General Secretary’s attention to important deficiencies in the amendment. The EFN finds that the amendment process does not help at all in fulfilling the national climate objectives and that all such references, of which there was manifold, should be removed. The EFN is also categorically opposed to lowering the rotation age of spruce stands and also points out the sorry state of Estonia’s keystone biotopes. It is found that as the new amendment impacts very many people, much more of them should be represented in the process.
  • 6/01/2016: The Ministry announces in a public press release that an agreement has been reached concerning the FA amendment between them and the environmental NGOs promising that “with the lowering of the felling age of fertile spruce forests there will be clear steps towards covering the deficiencies in the strict defense of nemoral and mesoeutrophic forests.”
  • 9/30/2016: The head of the MoE’s forest department, Riina Martverk, notifies the environmental NGOs that the amendment project has been sent to the coordination round together with the explanatory note and secondary legislation drafts. To the unpleasant surprise of the involved parties, it is learned that the Ministry has unexpectedly backed down from the deal with the ENGOs and no measures to make up for the deficiencies in the strict protection of nemoral and mesoeutrophic forests have been planned.
  • 10/13/2016: A lead researcher of the University of Tartu and a member of the state’s Forestry Council, Asko Lõhmus, sends a protest letter to the Ministry’s Head of the Forest Dept., exclaiming: „I inform that I do not agree with the proposition to lower spruce felling age nor its explanation“, further clarifying that per the agreement made in Spring the lowering of the spruce felling age should have just a sanitary explanation, and it had a presumption that at the relevant forest types the preserve network will be improved, because this is precisely where a large conservation deficiency exists.“ Lõhmus reminds that the Minister of the Environment has publicly expressed that decision, yet no real measures have been presented by the Ministry at that time.
  • 11/8/2016: The University of Tartu Conservation Biology Working Group publishes a study, which finds that intensive management has led to decline of rare tree shrooms.
  • The MoE lets the ENGOs know on the same date that the FA amendment draft has reached the Ministry of Justice for coordination. The ENGOs find that the deal made with them has been violated in an undemocratic manner and that measures compensating for the easing of logging restrictions are not a part of the legislation draft.
  • 11/30/2016: The environmental NGOs start a public campaign „Help protect Estonian forest!“, which lets citizens know of the deepening forestry problems and the deal violation by the Ministry. The MoE responds with a press release of its own, which claims it was the ENGOs instead which backed down from the deal made with them.
  • 12/01/2016: 101 influential cultural figures and scientists send an open letter to the Parliament and ministries, demanding ENGOs inclusion into forest policy and a state-level inquiry into the Ministry of the Environment’s activities. A question is asked – is the present forestry policy not a malicious and clumsy misuse of the most precious natural resource of Estonia’s state and its people.
  • Due to public pressure, the MoE invites the interest groups to discuss the FA amendment again, but the Ministry’s press communication still finds the ENGOs as the culprit of backing away from the deal.
  • 12/02/2016: A petition campaign is launched against the FA amendment. More that 1000 signatures are collected in 24 hours. The campaign coordinators receive support letters from the Estonian Agricultural Academy, Luua Forestry School, Estonian expatriate community and elsewhere. It suddenly becomes apparent that people for all kinds of walks of life share the forest defenders’ worries.
  • 12/16/2016: Hundreds of people have gathered in front of the Ministry of Environment. Citizens demand a more sustainable forestry policy, over 7000 signatures have been collected in support of the forest. Civil association Estonian Forest Aid is formed. At the same time, new talks are being held inside the Ministry building over the Forest Act amendment.
  • 12/20/2016: The results of the Statistical Forest Inventory are introduced at the Ministry of Environment. The Environmental Agency has made changes to the methodology of calculating forest increment, which is thus unprecedentedly high this year – 15 Mm3 instead of the former 12 Mm3. One of the state’s dogmas has been ’forestry is sustainable if the logging volume does not surpass the increment value, so naturally critics suspect the change has been enacted to justify rising logging volumes.
  • 12/21/2016: The forest industrialist Mati Polli is released from the position of SFMC’s Chairman of the Boardon his own request, to “avoid a seeming conflict of interest”, by his own words.
  • 1/09/2017: An article in Postimees uncovers the logging of about a hundred elms, under protection in Estonia, by the SFMC at Saaremaa. A criminal investigation has been launched.
  • 1/10/2017: A plan is uncovered – an investor’s group long time active in Estonian forestry plans to bring a 1 billion euro investment in Estonia. Behind the investment plan is Est-For Invest OÜ, whose spokespeople are renowned Estonian forest entrepeneurs, Margus Kohava and Aadu Polli – the latter is the son of Mati Polli, who is also among the investors. A giant pulp mill is being planned, with the yearly wood intake of about 3 million cubic meters.
  • 1/12/2017:University of Tartu scientists publish a study which shows that the State Forest Management Centre has logged almost 40% of mesoeutrophic forests during the last decades.
    At the same day, the Minister of Entrepeneurship and IT, Urve Palo, gives an extremely positive welcome to the plans to build the giant pulp mill. „Without doubt, the entire government must direct attention to this kind of project. I have no doubts that the current government is ready for it“, says Palo expressing the position of the entire government.
  • 1/15/2017: Postimees writes that the forest mediation firms have created a super-database, in whose creation the data leaks from the Ministry of Environment’s sub-offices might have a part.
  • 1/16/2017: The Forestry Council gathered at the MoE finally reaches agreement concerning the FA amendment. The Minister of Environment, Marko Pomerants, notified the public that the aim set in EFDP2020 to cover the deficiencies of strict defense for nemoral and mesoeutrophic forests has to be fulfilled as soon as possible and the plan of action to do so exists. On the changes concerning shelterwood cutting and selective cutting it was found  that in managed forests those are necessary to promote using cutting styles alternative to clear cuts, but at the restriction zones, the extant norms should largely remain in place. Lowering the felling age of spruce was also decided to reach the government with the amendment project.
  • 1/17/2017: A public hearing of the Parliament’s Environmental Committee takes place, whose central subject is Estonian forest and questions pertaining to its protection. Environmental NGOs suggest a redefining of the Forestry Council’s make-up and principles of work.
  • On the same day, the environmental NGOs exclaim that the forest protection action plan approve by the Forestry Council has to be enacted as well. The SFMC has given those areas a preliminary protection, so the following process has to be mainly directed at specifying its protection plan and embed it with the mechanisms of the Nature Conservation Act.
  • 1/18/2017: The Estonian Ornithological Society notifies the public of the fact that 60 000 pairs of birds are lost from Estonian forests annually. The ornithologists announce that the intensified forest management and the planned changes to the Forest Act have a considerable negative effect to Estonian forest avifauna. A proposition is made to open the forestry development plan and review it and to establish a state-wide spring-summer logging ban.
  • 1/19/2017: The General Secretary of the MoE, Andres Talijärv is appointed as the new Chairman of the SFMC-s Board.
  • 1/25/2017: Over 30 tourism firms and organizations present an open address to the Minister of Environment and the Parliament’s Environmental Committee, which announces that the current Estonian forestry policy and forest management practice does not account for the tourism sector’s needs sufficiently. “The ever growing logging contradicts the international image projected by Estonia as the land of untouched nature and protected forests. Theoretically, 26% of forests are under protection, but in practice there is daily logging at our national parks. That sort of contradiction has a negative effect on Estonian forest enterprises and indirectly also to entire Estonian economy and reputation”, reads the address. Üle kolmekümne erineva turismiettevõtte ja -organisatsiooni teeb keskkonnaministrile ning riigikogu keskkonnakomisjonile avaliku pöördumise
  • 1/27/2017: The investors of the giant pulp mill announce they have picked a place for the planned mill – near Tartu and next to river Emajõgi, for there’s sufficient available freshwater resources, it is accessible to work force and has a functioning transport network.
  • 1/30/2017: The industrialists planning the pulp mill apply for a permit to start a nationally designated special plan. „Est-For Invest, the developer of a billion euro wood refining plant issued an application to the Ministry of Finance yesterday on the eve of January 30th to build the mill at the Suur-Emajõe basin, the government has 90 days to make the decision.“ (Puidurafineerimistehase rajajad taotlevad riigi eriplaneeringut, Maaleht, Aive Mõttus, 31.01.17)
  • 1/31/2017. A somewhat historical event at Kuusalu municipality, Kolga – the first inclusion meeting of the SFMC. The state forest manager, which has planned a massive amount of clear cuts around Kolga, in close vicinity of the Lahemaa National Park steps a bit closer to the citizens in the wins of society’s heightened attention and tries actually including them into forest management planning. The meeting is constructive – the logging planned to following months is cancelled and the parties agree to form a group from the representatives of the SFMC, the municipality and the representatives of the locals to look for a compromise that satisfies everyone. (The SFMC later fails to fulfill the agreement due to poor internal communication, however.)
  • 2/08/2017. The media covers the SFMC-s logging at the Karula National Park’s conservation zone, the Environmental Inspectorate has initiated an investigation. „On the border of Valga and Võru counties, near Antsla, at the Karula National Park, a conservation zone was logged on a 4 meter strip, in total 0,3 hectares, to reconstruct an existing road. The schemes of the project did not coincide with the explanatory note, however, and the EI has started an investigation.“
  • 2/21/2017: Information is published on the media that the universities will start counseling scientific research for the planned pulp mill. „To carry through scientific research for the billion-euro wood refining plant, a deal between the rectors of the University of Tartu, Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Tallinn Technical University has created a high-quality and independent Est-For Academic Council“.
  • 2/22/2017: The OECD publishes an environmental performance report showing Estonia as the second most intensively logged country in the European Union (pg 5): https://issuu.com/oecd.publishing/docs/oecd_epr_estonia_highlights
  • 2/23/2017: The new FA amendment is decided on the government level: spruce felling age will be lowered but to compensate for the environmental damage of this change, new preserves for nemoral and mesoeutrophic forests will be created. The change will allow for an additional 1 million cubic meters of spruce to be logged on the very year it becomes active, but that information is left to the public to calculate.
  • 3/03/2017: The EFA makes a new public address to protect the Keretü preserve. As the Environmental Board, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Defense expressed the position that the Environmental Impact Assessment of the polygon expansion can only help the planned preserve’s development, then the civil movement pleads for the EIA to put the needs of the Keretü preserve first. The civil movement finds that the preserve should follow its original, 2013 expert assessment borders, avoid converting the forests surrounding it and ensure the protection of the endangered species of the area in every possible way.
  • On the same date, the Minister of Environment, Marko Pomerants initiated the process of forming 5 new preserves for nemoral and mesoeutrophic forests on a total of 27 000 hectares on state lands.
  • 3/07/2017: The Minister of Defence, Margus Tsahkna addresses the public, saying that the Nursipalu polygon expansion will be built no matter what. This would however be unlawful, as the expansion’s Environmental Impact Assessment is yet incomplete, but that is the document which should decide whether the expansion is possible from a conservation point of view.
  • 4/03/2017: The Estonian Forest Aid issues a public address to the representatives of the state asking for a thorough study by independent experts to find out whether the giant pulp mill can even be built without risks of unsustainable pressure to the Estonian forest resource.
  • 4/13/2017 The Free Party summons a Nationally Important Question hearing titled „Where is the balance in forest?“, which was illuminated by the top scientists Asko Lõhmus (University of Tartu) and Toomas Frey (Estonian University for Life Sciences), who highlighted the industry interests’ dominance in forestry policy and the decline of Estonia’s old forests.
  • 4/14/2017: Head of the Estonian Fund for Nature, Tarmo Tüür, tells the media that the aim of EFDP2020 of logging 15 million cubic meters yearly should be stopped at once and that logging volumes that surpass 9 million cubic meters violate the Paris accord.  
  • 4/19/2017: The Estonian Parliament approved with 77 votes in favour the Act on Amendments to the Planning Act and the Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management System Act (411 SE), initiated by the Economic Affairs Committee, which enables the authorities that organise planning work to enter into a contract to cover the costs of the commissioning of the preparation of a spatial plan and impact assessment, including the strategic environmental assessment, with the party interested in the preparation of the spatial plan. The Auditor General had critizised the amendment on 4/06/2017 due to its risks of corruption.
  • 5/11/2017: Government launches designated spatial planning process for Est-For biorefinery project.
    https://bioenergyinternational.com/biochemicals-materials/government-launches-designated-spatial-planning-process-est-biorefinery-project
  • 5/13/2017: The first protest against the mill takes place at the central square of Tartu joined by various intellectuals, specialists and the mayor of Tartu.
    http://eestimetsaabiks.emaliikumine.ee/index.php/tselluloositehase-vastane-meeleavaldus-tartus/
  • 9/01/2017: Asko Lõhmus publishes the first yearly review of the forest debate:
    “When a smart decision-maker looks back at past mistakes, they will fix them while keeping intact the viability of the long-formed culture network while guaranteeing the health and well-being of nature and people.”

    /…/

    I will remind the reader – the new minister of environment hopefully already knows this – that the back-room of forestry contains a half of Estonia’s land area. There are much smaller states than that in Europe that the native peoples have fought bloody wars for even in recent past.“

  • 9/19/2017: The Estonian Forest Aid goes to court to annul the nationally designated special plan for the pulp mill. “The environmental association said that the documents are unlawful as they err both against the conditions of the state’s special plan and the lawfulness of the planned environmental impact assessment process.”
    https://news.err.ee/619474/environmental-activists-take-legal-action-against-1-billion-pulp-mill-plan
  • 10/11/2017: The then Minister of the Environment sends out an angry press release after The Estonian Forest Aid appealed their lawsuit that was rejected at the Administrative Court at the Circuit Court, saying that they “sow trouble and hatred” and that their accusations are “absurd”. https://majandus24.postimees.ee/4272749/kiisler-eesti-metsa-abiks-ei-ole-eesti-metsa-abiks
  • 10/25/2017: On a sustainable forestry conference in the Estonian Parliament, dr Asko Lõhmus uncovers the findings of his ‘control study’:  It came out that in the *ecological* sense there’s about 43,9% of forest cover in Estonia (the state says it’s 53,09%, because the state also counts clear cut fellings as forest. They also measured that the average size of a clear cut felling is 6-7 hectares — a study from the University of Life Sciences had said, that it’s 1,5 hectares. In addition, about half of the logged areas violated the Forest Act and it’s subsidiary acts in some ways. The strictly protected areas were found untouched. https://novaator.err.ee/638586/looduskaitsebioloog-lukkab-umber-riikliku-metsastatistika-vaited
  • 12/08/2017: The ‘deal of three rectors’, which would have mandated that the Tallinn University, the University of Tartu and the Tallinn Technological University to have a joint position in the matters of ‘large projects’, with specific spokespersons, and other scientists could not use their university’s name to go with their opinion is seen as an attack on free speech by the scientists https://heureka.postimees.ee/4337427/rektorite-kokkulepe-tekitab-tartu-teadlastes-suukorvistamise-hirmu
  • On the same date, the Deputy Director of Estonian Internal Security Service warned of “resource heavy investments whose local resource could run out“, and also brought out dangers of corruption at the same speech. The Est-For developers, although not directly mentioned, took it personally and hastily replied “We are not a security risk“.
  • 12/12/2017: A misleading report ordered by Est-For is published, saying that the mill would “reduce Estonia’s carbon footprint”, by counting woody biomass energy, which the mill would use, as carbon neutral. The local environmental orgs and independent researchers responded swiftly and adequately to debunk it.
  • 1/12/2018: The daily newspaper Postimees has recognised lead research fellow in conservation biology of the University of Tartu Asko Lõhmus with the title “Person of the Year 2017”. “Lõhmus has led the forest ecology and logging discussion in a balanced and well-argued manner, and thereby significantly contributed to the nature conservation debate in Estonia,” Postimees editor-in-chief Lauri Hussar explained the choice of the staff. https://www.ut.ee/en/news/postimees-names-ut-lead-researcher-asko-lohmus-person-year-2017
  • 1/24/2018: The Conservation Committee of the Estonian Academy of Sciences publishes a memorandum on the need to change forestry policy towards sustainability. The Ministry denounces the criticism two days later as ‘unscientific’.
  • 1/25/2018: Estonian Forest Aid wins the ‘public’s favourite’ award at the Ministry’s Environmental Deed contest, but unprecedentedly, the 5000-euro award is given to another.
  • 1/29/2018: The European Forest Institute’s address supporting ‘more logging to mitigate climate’ is mirrored in Estonian media.
    https://heureka.postimees.ee/4390905/euroopa-teadlaste-uhispoordumine-kliimamuutuste-leevendamine-nouab-julget-metsamajandust
  • 1/31/2018: A state TV investigative journalism show uncovers a deal to be made between Est-For and the SFMC, which is suspected to be in conflict of interest.
  • 2/09/2018: Rainer Kuuba, a forest owner landscape ecologist and a diplomate forest manager, publishes an article explaining that the current upper limit on the development plan until 2020, 15 Mm3, would amount to depleting the legally loggable forest resource in 30 years. It also highlights various other problems with the recent changes in the Statistical Forest Inventory and the way forestry is currently being planned. He also proposes a logging volume of 4 million cubic meters for the next decade to compensate for the current decade’s overlogging. 
  • 2/24/2018: On the 100th anniversary of the Estonian state, the dramatic play at the President’s party featured a harvester taking down a forest while a young girl is there worshiping the forest with a song, angering many forest businessmen. https://arileht.delfi.ee/news/uudised/ettevotja-poordumises-presidendi-poole-miks-lavastuses-anti-edasi-mark-harvesterist-kui-monstrumist?id=81278643
  • 02/28/2018, Firewood has gone 50% more expensive with the last year, Madis Must, Maaleht http://maaleht.delfi.ee/news/maaleht/uudised/kuttepuud-on-aastaga-kallinenud-50-protsenti?id=81287019
  • 3/01/2018: The Ministry accepts the Estonian Forest Aid as a party at all the sub-work groups for the next decade’s forestry development plan. Dr. Lõhmus later mentions it as one of the Ministry’s brightest decisions that year.
  • 3/07/2018: The Tartu Appeal Working group achieves a council meeting at the city council about the pulp mill. 820 signatures are handed over to the city govt; its opposition has been achieved, partly also due to the mill plans polling at 75% rejecting it at both Tartu city and county. https://news.postimees.ee/4432259/tartu-protests-pulp-mill
  • Renowned liberal columnist Ahto Lobjakas ties the wolves’ coming closer to human settlements at Noarootsi to intensive logging activity and boar hunting, also stresses the need to leave more room for nature.
  • 3/09/2018: Head of the Estonian Fund for Nature, Tarmo Tüür, highlights the lack of protection for old forests on state lands, though the FSC certificate requires its preservation.
  • 3/12/2018: Minister of Environment Siim Kiisler says that the new development has to become a ‘social contract’. Siim Kiisler, Metsanduse arengukavast peab saama ühiskondlik kokkulepe. – Postimees 12. III 2018.
  • 3/15/2018: The head of the SFMC, Aigar Kallas, says to media that “the Estonian people have been battling the forest for 5000 years but are yet to see victory.”  
  • 3/20/2018: The Estonian Forest Aid and the House of Groves Foundation publish Ahto Kaasik’s overview of nearly 80 sacred sites destroyed by economic activities in the recent years — the more characteristic cases.
    http://eestimetsaabiks.emaliikumine.ee/index.php/20-03-2018-ema-ja-hiite-maja-avaldasid-ulevaate-ruustatud-puhapaikadest/
  • 4/16/2018: The National Audit Office specialist Kaido Kama that got fired over being critical towards the state’s forestry policy is hired at Postimees to work as an environment section editor. https://www.postimees.ee/4472973/kaido-kama-suundus-ajakirjandusse
  • 4/17/2018: FERN’s Hanna Aho accuses Estonia as one of the main culprits in undermining the EU-s climate policy regarding forest sector. https://www.fern.org/news-resources/the-eus-new-lulucf-regulation-is-it-fit-for-climate-purpose-106/
  • At the same date, the government rejects Tartu’s request of ending the nationally designated special plan for the pulp mill
  • 4/22/2018 Laying off Kaido Kama from the National Audit Office for publicly critizising the state’s forestry policy creates an atmosphere of danger to the freedom of speech, Tuuli Koch, Postimees https://leht.postimees.ee/4088287/kaido-kama-koondamine-loob-sonavabadusohu-ohustiku
  • 5/09/2018: The Estonian intellectual Hasso Krull gives a speech at the opening of the Prima Vista festival in Tartu as its patron, highlighting the nature crises as the ills of extractive capitalism and the need to work against them, in an obvious connection to the Est-For pulp mill. The essay goes on to later receive the Enn Soosaar ethical essay award, signifying a large support to the cause among the intellectuals (Translation in attachment) https://www.sirp.ee/s1-artiklid/c7-kirjandus/imelihtne-tulevik/
  • 5/21/2018: Massive protests to protect River Emajõgi against the pulp mill development (the largest mass gathering after restoring Estonia’s independence). The Tartu Appeal Working Group supports the protests with another appeal, pointing out various errors in handling the pulp mill process. https://bnn-news.com/river-emajogi-guarded-by-mass-protest-against-pulp-mill-185001
  • 5/25/2018: The premiere of the operetta “Forest Forte”, which muses on the forest debate (by Estonian Dramatic Theatre and Nargenfestival) https://kultuur.postimees.ee/4492318/metsa-forte-raagib-keskkonnaprobleemidest
  • 6/19/2018: The industrialists have said they want to build the mill away from Tartu, near Tabivere, a rather smaller place. A huge protest springs up there as well https://news.err.ee/840868/gallery-nearly-a-thousand-tabivere-residents-in-pulp-mill-protest
  • 6/21/2018: The government opts to initiate the termination of the pulp mill spatial plan’ https://news.err.ee/841227/estonian-government-opts-to-initiate-termination-of-pulp-mill-spatial-plan
  • 7/09/2018: Andres Talijärv leaves the Ministry and goes on to work for the Private Forest Association as its executive director. The post of the MoE’s General Secretary is given to Meelis Münt, a former Deputy Secretary of Climate and a proponent of burning wood for energy.
    https://www.eramets.ee/metsandusuudised/erametsaliidu-tegevjuhina-alustab-andres-talijarv/
  • 8/2018: A study ordered by the Ministry on environmental awareness shows that 77% of the questioned populace are for reducing the logging volumes, and half of the questioned people also believe that a tree should only be logged as an emergency — if it threatens to damage property of be dangerous to humans — a surprisingly radical attitude (pg 112.)https://www.envir.ee/sites/default/files/2018_keskkonnateadlikkuse_uuring.pdf
  • 9/05/2018: The Estonian Forest Aid begins an anti-clearcut campaign, inspired by the similar Finnish campaign. An important part of that campaign is also *a statewide 4-month seasonal logging ban* and *finding and protecting all the remaining natural sacred sites*, both of which find their way into the electoral programs of 3 largest Estonian political parties, if in somewhat toned-down way (3 month logging ba instead of 4, etc). Might be noteworthy as well that at Estonia’s People’s Initiative portal, which mandates the Parliament to discuss an issue if it gets 1000 or more signatures, it is the most successful initiative to this day, and many people have turned to us saying they were unable to sign it digitally https://www.err.ee/859826/uhendus-alustas-lageraie-vastast-kampaaniat
  • 9/13/2018: The Minister of Regional Affairs reports that the project for termination the nationally designated special plan has been prepared.
  • 9/14/2018: Asko Lõhmus publishes his overview of the second year of the forest debate, pointing towards the need of a just and creative leader to rise among the politicians officials and industrialists to mend the problem saying that two years is enough to see that the “old guard” will not stop justifying their current policy. 
  • 9/15/2018: Mart Erik, one-time largest forest entrepeneur in Estonia, before that the Head of the Heavy Industry Section of the Planning Committee of the Estonian SSR and currently one of the more outspoken proponents of the pulp mill, calls Raul Rosenvald, one of the few active forestry scientists from the sustainable side at the University for Life Sciences, a ‘dissident’ on social media.
  • 10/10/2018: The pulp mill developers ask for extra time before termination, trying to find municipalities that would want the mill. Actually, they try to make use of a loop hole in the legislation which would let them build near Tartu anyhow, if they could perform their assessments and so http://www.baltic-course.com/eng/investments/?doc=144137
  • 10/18/2018: The special solutions coordinator of Estonian Forest Aid, Indrek Vainu, enacts a one-man ’protest’ in the cabinet of the then Minister of Regional Affairs, Janek Mäggi, describing in detail the plot of the businessmen and implying direct responsibility on the part of the Minister. The meeting left the minister shocked and offended. https://newsmavens.com/news/lessons-learned/2089/estonia-s-forest-defenders-are-increasingly-angry
  • 11/08/2018: Pulp mill plan finally terminated https://news.err.ee/875491/estonian-government-decides-to-terminate-pulp-mill-spatial-plan
  • 12/3/2018: A forest-and-threats-to-it themed christmas film, “Eia’s Christmas at Phantom Owl Farm” premieres https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9261284/
  • 12/6/2018: The best-selling author Valdur Mikita, that has raised the Estonians’ identity as a forest people before, publishes the book “The Suffering Years of Estonian Nature” https://kultuur.postimees.ee/6471548/valdur-mikital-ilmus-uus-raamat-eesti-looduse-kannatuse-aastad
  • 12/14/2018: The Estonian Private Forest Association approaches the parties to be standing for the parliamentary elections, saying that forest management issues should not be a part of the elections program, but instead be decided with the development plan process.
    https://meieeesti.postimees.ee/6501908/erametsaliidu-arusaam-riigimehelikkusest
  • At the same date, the writer Valdur Mikita is attacked on the media, misrepresenting an earlier story in which he had sold some forest, making him seem like a hypocrite — most likely in retaliation for his recent book.
  • 12/20/2018: Merging the Environmental Inspectorate and the Environmental Board fails at the Parliament for the first time. The Estonian Forest Aid also campaigned against this merger. It is to fail for a second time as well, and later the Chancellor of Justice mentions that those kinds of mergers are planned to be removed from the Parliament’s jurisdiction.
  • 12/28/2018: The Environmental Inspectorate and the Estonian Forest Aid sign a good will pact of cooperation to enhance their common fight against environmental crimes.
  • 1/03/2019: The Estonian Chamber of Environmental Associations awards the yearly Environmental Deed (2018) award to the daily paper Postimees and the culture weekly Sirp for opening environmental sections, while the Ministry of Environment’s forest departement and the Deputy Secretary Marku Lamp get the Environmental Axe for years’ long obstruction of protecting the forest keystone biotopes
  • 1/24/2019: The State Forest Management Centre decides to locate all the keystone habitats on its lands and refrain from logging on even the potential ones as a result of FSC pressure — one of the few good news those years other than the termination of the pulp mill https://www.rmk.ee/organisatsioon/pressiruum/uudised/uudised-2019/rmk-votab-kaitse-alla-viimased-veel-kaitseta-olevad-vaariselupaigad-riigimetsa
  • 2/27/2019: The Estonian Forest Aid is left out of the steering committee for the next decade’s forestry development plan. The Estonian Fund of Nature expresses its chagrin over the fact, calling it the largest civil movement to ever gather in defense of Estonian forests. Only 3 out of 29 steering committee members protect the ecological interests. https://ekspress.delfi.ee/arvamus/haaletame-kes-on-vana-metsa-raiumise-poolt-ja-kaed-tousevad?id=85760119 Surprisingly, Graanul Invest’s CEO is on the steering committee *in person*. https://www.lesprom.com/en/news/Graanul_Invests_CEO_elected_to_the_steering_committee_of_the_Forestry_Development_Plan_in_Estonia_87912/ The new Chancellor of the MoE has been accused in furthering biomass interests in general. Graanul Invest is the worlds second-largest pellet producer and over half of Estonia’s wood is burned as biomass.
  • 101 problems were gathered at the problem gathering phase of the new development plan, and the problem of “logging volumes are on a level that is harmful to biodiversity and might be harmful to other ecosystem services’ got voted the most important problem by the participants. The Ministry has later tried to downplay that result.
  • 3/01/2019: An interview with the FSC board member Lembit Maamets is published, in which he claims that Estonian forest investments are mostly land price speculations, expresses the need for an Annual Allowable Cut or a sustainable logging limit and says that the price of forest land has risen by 50% in the period of 2016-2018
    https://meieeesti.postimees.ee/6534545/lembit-maamets-metsa-uleraie-on-laen-tuleviku-arvel
  • 3/03/2019: Estonian parliamentary elections. Both the Green Party and the tad more socially conservative, expert-heavy Biodiversity Party suffer a bitter defeat, as does the Free Party, which has also highlighted forest issues. The climate-denying radical right triples its vote share to 17,8% and later goes on to win the seat of the Minister of the Environment. Most large parties, included the radical right, campaigned as environmentally conscious/pro-forest.
  • 3/04/2019: A coalition of European and American NGO-s sue the EU-s Renewable Energy Directive amendment over it being harmful and based on faulty science; featuring a plaintiff from Estonia, the intellectual Hasso Krull, who concentrates of the harm done to the natural sacred sites by bioenergy interests — Graanul Ivest has specifically taken action to disrupt the FSC certificate from protecting the sacred sites by requesting the state to remove the sacred sites’ map layer from state maps due to the sacred sites not being properly accounted for http://eubiomasscase.org/media/
  • 3/08/2019: The Supreme Court judge Eerik Kergandberg publishes an opinion piece in which he expresses pride over the pulp mill fight says that the forest debate has been the only public debate of recent times worth of his real interest, points out the national security aspect of forestry and proposes that collective court complaints about the environment should be allowed in Estonia (currently they aren’t unlike in many place in the world, including Lithuania).
  • 4/02/2019: The Estonian Forest Aid with the animal rights org Loomus and the animal protection org Loomakaitse Selts present a letter to the minister to enact a seasonal logging ban to protect birds and beasts. Other organisations join them shortly. A disproportionate backlash from the industry forces. http://eestimetsaabiks.emaliikumine.ee/index.php/bird-peace/
  • 4/24/2019: Private Forest Association and Private Forest Centre — the latter being a state institution — award Margus Kohava of Est-For fame and Peeter Krimm, a private forest owner and a diplomate forest manager from Pärnumaa known for his opinion pieces which pay little regard to facts and little respect to his opponents with letters of gratitude on their Private Forest Day. 
  • 4/25/2019: It is revealed that the year 2018 was record-breaking in terms of logging — 12,5 million cubic meters was logged despite so many protests and the general public mood to reduce logging https://www.eramets.ee/metsandusuudised/mullu-raiuti-eestis-rekordiliselt-metsa/
  • End of May 2019: A journalist contacted Estonian Forest Aid for info on Graanul Invest and Kirjanen. Next day, Kirjanen’s lawyers contacted every major media house saying they’ll be sued when they publish a story with the EFA as the source. The interest of the journalist has since waned, and it seems like it is a rather common way of conducting business in Estonia.
  • Early June 2019: Aburi tree grove is defiled, provoking protest. Ahto Kaasik’s video on the matter gains 60 000 views in a few days. 
  • 6/07/2019: The Estonian Forest Aid was accepted by the fresh minister Rene Kokk to be a part of the steering committee. The committee is still tilted strongly in favour of the “economic” interests though. https://www.bioneer.ee/keskkonnaminister-liitis-metsanduse-arengukava-juhtr%C3%BChma-metsakaitsjad
  • 6/11/2019: The Estonia’s Chancellor of Justice (constitutional overview office) answered the Estonian Forest Aid’s question on the legality of spring-summer logging in the context of Estonia’s Nature Conservation Act, which prohibits wanton killing and disturbing wildlife during their time of nesting and breeding. The CoJ CONFIRMED the movement’s interpretation and said that a part of the responsibility for following the law lies with the state. This actually has EU-wide implications, as those prohibitions originate from the EU-s Birds Directive https://www.ohtuleht.ee/966589/oiguskantsler-riik-peab-raietoodel-arvesse-votma-metsalinde-kaitsvat-seadust
  • 6/14/2019: The government has approved mass burning of wood in Eastern Estonian power stations to deal with the jobs crisis in energy sector (or so they say) caused by the mishandled transition to a low carbon economy: https://news.err.ee/951755/government-approves-use-of-biomass-in-narva-power-plants-within-year
  • 6/17/2019: On the first meeting of  the  steering committee of our next decade’s forestry development plan, Raul Kirjanen gesticulated obscenely today during the first meeting of the, making the “middle finger” gesture twice towards the Estonian Forest Aid’s General Program Coordinator Linda-Mari Väli while she was taking photographs of the event with the ministry’s permission.
  • 6/20/2019: The head of Estonian Fund for Nature, Tarmo Tüür, puts 6 public questions to the Ministry of the Environment concerning the uncertanties and perceived unfairness of the development plan process. 
  • 6/28/2019: Over 50 nature photographers send a letter to the Minister of Environment suggesting a more sustainable forestry policy
  • 7/24/2019: DJ Shromik, Seaduskuulekus, Ro-Ro, Eiche and Ruudi publish a critical forest-themed collaborative rap video on Youtube, which had previously been a part of a talent contest. However, it is soon to be taken down, as a TV studio which was used in parts of the video did not agree to its trademarks being used in that context, pushing the video back into production stage.
    http://life.hooliganhamlet.com/2019/07/osa-hanf-kungist-seisab-kodumaa-metsade-eest-uues-loos-metsolisiin/
  • 8/16/2019: A prominent zoologist, Aleksei Turovski, says that intensive logging is to be blamed for the increasing number of vehicle-to-animal collisions https://maaleht.delfi.ee/news/keskkond/uudised/aleksei-turovski-loomadega-liiklusonnetuste-sagenemine-on-peamiselt-tingitud-metsaraie-intensiivsusest?id=87149221
  • 8/19/2019: The Estonian Forest and Timber Industries Association
    supports the government’s plan of substituting large amounts of oil shale with wood, interpreting the 12-15 million cubic meters designated with the development plan until 2020 as an ‘aim’ instead of an ‘upper limit’, and seeing the wood-burning plan as helping to achieve this aim (12,5 million cubic meters was logged in 2017, and in 2018, probably more) They also say that once they have been granted that possibility, it shouldn’t be taken away from them to ensure stability. They are also aware of the probable LULUCF penalties, but hope that the profits from the industry will be greater.
    https://www.aripaev.ee/uudised/2019/08/19/metsatoostus-loodab-eesti-energia-toel-raiemahu-tousu
  • On the same day, Raul Kirjanen of Graanul Invest also supports a 15 million Mm3 yearly logging volume.
    https://www.metsamajandusuudised.ee/uudised/2019/08/19/raul-kirjanen-metsamajandamine-peaks-algama-riigi-energiapoliitikast
  • 8/25/2019: This week, a Danish TV2 team did some in-depth research into the sustainability of Estonian forestry — relevant to them, as the main source of their renewable energy comes from biomass, including Estonian biomass.
  • 8/28/2019: The Environmental Board wanted to create a new preserve for the western capercaillae. The SFMC wanted to log there instead. The SFMC won.
  • 8/30/2019: Asko Lõhmus publishes an overview of the third year of the forest debate finding it largely to be a standstill and blaming the ugliness and lack of morality of the Estonian society for the lack of progress. He however sees some seeds of hope in various developments and ends on a “we’ll look and see” note.
  • ENGO-s criticize the government’s wood burning plan for its inefficency and lack of assessing its environmental impacts, included its carbon emissions.
  • The Estonian Ornithological Society sends an open letter to the Minister of Environment regarding Deputy Chancellor Marku Lamp’s activities in changing the borders of Kõveri-Ilvese preserve, in which he is said to have violated his powers. Logging by the SFMC is also expected to be stopped by the minister. The Kõveri-Ilvese western capercaillie preserve is one of the compensatory mechanisms of the controversial Rail Baltic railway.
  • The Private Forest Associations finally issues a warning on frauds being after elderly people’s forest.
  • 9/09/2019: Forestry machinery fires caused almost 126 000 euros worth of insurance damages in July 2019.
  • 9/10/2019: A record amount of trees were planted in Estonia last year, 33,3 million of them, Estonian Public Broadcasting reports.
  • 9/12/2019: The Government Office unexpectedly says that the climate petition of the ENGOs can’t be given to the prime minister on the following day’s climate conference and that the persons that try to to that anyhow might be removed, in unprecedented harshness.
  • 9/13/2019: The Forest and Timber Industries Ass. an Private Forest Ass. cynically support the ENGOs climate petition (neutrality in 2035) to promote their unscientific view of climate-beneficial intensive forestry.
  • The Estonian Fund for Nature welcomes the industrialists’ support, saying climate neutrality would also require lowering logging volumes. 
  • The CotB of the Private Forest Ass. replies that climate neutrality will not be achieved with empty sloganeering and that carbon matters should be left to ‘carbon specialists’. 
  • The Estonian Environmental Board supports the Estonian Forest Aid in admitting the necessity for a spring-summer logging ban to protect nesting birds. They however need legislative changes to apply it more effectively, current legislation would need 30 people working on the issue to enforce it — and the EB is already overwhelmed. 
  • Äripäev’s Forestry News portal reports of hard times (upcoming bankrupcies) for the wood sector due to cooling down of the economy and widespread fraud