The state of Estonia’s forests is the best in a century

Despite an emotional debate about excessive logging, which has been going on in the public in recent months, the statistics state dispassionately: Estonia is presently more afforested than in any time during the past century.

The same debate flared up during the second reading of the forestry act amendments in the parliament on Wednesday (June 7): is the reduction of logging age of fir forests justified and isn’t the logging volume too high?

Figures show that while 21 percent of Estonia’s territory was covered with forests in 1920, 53 percent was afforested last year. The average age of Estonia’s forests has also significantly increased throughput past decades.

For example, it was 41 years in 1958, 49 years in 1988 and 56 years in 2014.

Increase was not recognized

The most afforested county is the island of Hiiumaa, where forests covered 22 percent of the territory in 1939 and more than 70 percent at present.

“Where there were pastures, fields or meadows before the war, there are now forests or logging plots. Moose, deer and boars roam the former farm sites. On the contrary to widely spread misconception, they find a lot of food on logging sites”, forest businessman Mart Erik described the situation.

It is true that the definition of forest has changed over time. The forest area statistics of the 1920s did not include meadows with trees, although these were essentially forest areas. However, the 1940s statistics already include them.

The forest area calculations also depend on whether the bodies of water are included. And officials of the Soviet period were unwilling to report areas becoming afforested.

“The land balance was compiled at some time at the end of the Soviet era. But even these figures are not correct. They used bush as one of the categories of land. Actually these areas (presently privately-owned forests) were largely forests in the present sense. They were unwilling to report it to Moscow”, Erik said.

“We should further consider that reclassifying arable land to any other category was unlawful at that time and a collective farm chairman could lose his job when caught doing it. But if such land was not accessible for objective reasons and it became afforested? Did they report it honestly? Hardly”.

Despite everything it is a fact that forest areas are the largest today than anytime during the past hundred years.

“The steady increase of forest area is the history of our use of land, the story of its changing and it contains a loot of tragic aspects. The world war, deportations and the people moving away from villages opened an opportunity to the forest. It used the opportunity and thousands of hectares became naturally afforested”, said Tiit Timberg, board member of RMK, the State Forest Management Center.

Collective farms of the 1950s attempted to reclaim some of the forest area for farming, but the urbanization, which began in the 1960s, once more opened the door for the forest, Timberg said.

Age matters

Finally in the 1990s it became possible to register all existing forests and the area of forests increased further despite the enthusiasm for selling forest land and logging characterizing that period.

“The forest had matured and it was sold either for logging and retaining the land or together with the land. The money was spent on educating children, improving the home, on new cars, travel, even on alcohol – it all depended on the owner”, Erik said, adding that one cannot blame people for using their property the way they see fit.

The current use of forests depends on its age. “It has been apparently insufficiently explained and the public his still unaware of it that the volume of logging depends on the age structure of forests. We cannot influence it and mature forest cannot be preserved for the future”, Timberg said.

According to Timberg, it has always been and will remain a forest owner’s fate that they cut the trees planted and grown by the previous generations.

“What can we influence? We can plant and grow for the future generations as valuable or more valuable forests. Thousands of people are doing just that every day with great commitment”, Timberg said.

Read other news on the city site of Tallinn.

If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Chairman of the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and one of the owners of construction group Nordecon, Toomas Luman, finds that a prime ministerial candidate should first and foremost be able to answer the question of what will become of the demographic crisis in Estonia. The businessman sees controlled introduction of foreign labor as the solution. A digital construction cluster was created in Estonia a few years back to bring innovation to the s...
Last year saw 27,125 registered offenses, up 0.5 percent from the year before. Violent crime was up by 12 percent to 8,249 offenses. PHOTO: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire / Press Association Images / Scanpix Growth was biggest for domestic violence – the police launched criminal proceedings in 3,607 cases that constitutes an increase of more than one-third – annual growth of 37 percent from 2,632 cases in 2017. At the same time, reports of domestic violence we...
TALLINN - Ahead of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, tens of thousands of British citizens have chosen the citizenship of some other country, but only one Brit has recently chosen an Estonian citizenship. Spokespeople for the Ministry of the Interior told BNS that only one British citizen submitted an application for Estonian citizenship last year and the applicant was also granted the citizenship. Before that, no Brits had soug...
TALLINN - Experts from Finland, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands highlighted the importance of decentralization and granting local governments greater decision-making powers at a conference titled "Strong local government -- strong state?" in Tallinn on Wednesday.  All Nordic countries have chosen a model granting local governments significant decision-making powers, thus the central government does not prescribe how local governments are to fulfill the...
The language learning application Drops by game developer Planb Labs, established in Estonia by Hungarian founders, was named Google Play's best app of 2018. With the number of downloads surpassing 10 million, Drops was named Google's app of the year as the revenue of Planb Labs, a company registered in Estonia, increased fivefold, CNBC said. The developer's revenue grew from €335,000 in 2017 to €1.7 million in 2018. The company's shareholders include Hung...
TALLINN - The Estonian Health Board has banned the distribution of chlorine dioxide, also marketed as the Miracle Mineral Supplement (MMS), the A-component of an unused product, meaning the sodium chlorite solution, must be taken to a hazardous waste collection facility. Ester Opik, head of the Health Board's North regional department, said that the banning of the distribution of the product was caused by the fact that MMS, distributed as a cosmetics produ...
Nature cannot abide a vacancy, as the saying goes. If just one year ago, Estonia was battling the sale of MMS and the practice of giving it to children, a new “miracle cure” called Advanced TRS has appeared on the market now. Even though the make-up of the substance is different, the promise to cure autism and cleanse the body of heavy metals, which kind of extreme detox is accompanied by severe side-effects, sounds all too familiar. TRS is recommended to...
Allied NATO battalions will soon mark two years serving in the Baltics. They have worked better than expected but would need prepositioned heavy weaponry and a functional contingency plan in case of a crisis, a report by the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS) finds. “We do not know how Russia would have acted had we not welcomed allies in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in 2017. I’m afraid they would have tested our resolve,” one of...
The time of filing income tax returns is nearly upon us. The new income tax system, in effect since last year, will obligate many women who went on maternity leave toward the end of the year to make additional income tax payments, while those who give birth in the middle or at the beginning of the year have no such obligation. What this means is that some women will owe the state simply for giving birth “at the wrong time”. Laura Roop, who went on maternit...