Nearly one-third of state forests protected
Arne Ader‘s photo is illustrative
LINK to the article that prompted the reply below
I want neither forest plantations nor to go away!
Board Member of the Eestimaa Looduse Fond, Estonian Fund for Nature
Aigar Kallas, Chairman of the RMK Management Board, says in a Päevaleht interview on November 25th that those who believe that forests that have been allowed to grow on their own without human intervention are richer and more valuable should leave. Precisely so I believe too. This year’s survey of environmental awareness showed that a quarter of Estonians believe that the forest is one of the two areas of most concern, to which more attention should be paid from the environmental point of view. Are we all to leave? Where to, and for how long?
RMK, the Estonian State Forest Management Centre, has done quite a few things for maintaining the coherence of woodlands and the habitats of species, for instance by leaving more preserved trees on felling lots than the norm prescribed by law and having promised not to have clear-cuttings at vital nodes of the pathways of flying squirrels. However, the arrogant attitude expressed by Kallas about the loss of biodiversity and the problems of nature conservation is not justified. It is particularly threatening in the light of the recently completed development programme of RMK, where an increase of the allowable curring volume and increasingly intensive forest management are foreseen.
Nearly a third of the state forest area is under protection but preserving biodiversity must be a concern in all woodland areas. If protected forest areas are surrounded by large clear-cut areas and intensively managed forests, the species dependent on old forests will suffer. They cannot spread across completely cleared areas or in woodlands without old trees. A very striking example of what happens as a result of the fragmentation of protected areas is the drastic decrease in the number of flying squirrels during the last decade. If commercial forest land on Aigar Kallas prompting is treated as just tree plantations, the fate of the flying squirrel may also hit other species depending on old natural forests. Thus forest management must be planned as a whole and the coherence of forest landscapes must not suffer as a result of logging.
The problems accompanying an increasingly intensive forest management are clearly evident in Finland. The increasing impoverishment of forest structures and their species composition has left species living in ancient natural forests homeless. It is thus not surprising that 36,2% of the threatened species on the Finnish red list are related precisely to forests.
How to manage so that the Estonians who value biodiversity are not forced to leave? The forest has a countless number of values that cannot be evaluated only in cash nor turned into cash. All these should be equally taken in account in the management of state forests. We should learn from the mistakes made in the Nordic countries, not repeat them. Positive solutions are possible but they are not achieved by setting issues against each other.
An abridged version of the article appeared originally in Eesti Päevaleht, 08.12.2014