On 8 April, 27 European and international civil society forest and conservation groups, as well as the Global Forest Coalition, called on the Estonian Ministry of Environment to reverse its rejection of an impact assessment of the Estonian Forestry Development Plan to 2030. Carried out by the Stockholm Environment Institute Tallinn, the impact assessment was dismissed by the government – without prior discussion with the steering group – on the grounds that it focussed too heavily on climate and biodiversity. However, numerous government documents highlight the importance of prioritising climate and biodiversity protection, particularly in management and planning processes that directly impact natural resources such as forests.
As well as criticising the unjustified and non-transparent rejection of the impact assessment, the joint letter highlights the challenges faced by Estonian forests and nature. Estonia is home to Graanul Invest, Europe’s biggest producer of wood pellets for bioenergy (FW 251), and the government has said that in coming years Estonia’s use of forest bioenergy increase to almost double the SEI’s assessment of safe levels.