Estonian forest owners not ruling out taking to the streets following Latvians' example

  • 2024-03-05
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - With Latvian private forest owners gathering in Riga on Tuesday to protest against expanding nature conservation restrictions and unfair compensations, Estonian forest owners are not ruling out following the example of their southern neighbors either, Ants Erik, chairman of the management board of the Estonian Private Forest Association, said.

Private forest owners in Latvia face new nature conservation restrictions, which are planned to cover more than 70,000 hectares of private forests. However, fair compensations for tolerating restrictions are not offered to the forest owners. Therefore, Latvian forest owners have decided to come to the streets of Riga with their equipment. Farmers and forest industry representatives are also joining the forest owners' protest action in support.

According to Arnis Muiznieks, board chairman of the Latvian Forest Owners' Association, members of the association wished to take to the streets to protest.

"The organization of nature conservation in Latvia is neither reasonable nor fair. The latest announced plan to expand protected areas on more than 70,000 hectares of private forests was the last straw," he said, stressing that forest owners are not against nature conservation.

"Forest owners are in favor of protecting nature, but they are not ready to shoulder this burden alone. Such an expectation from the state is not fair," Muiznieks added.

The Estonian Private Forest Association expresses its support to the Latvians. According to Ants Erik, chairman of the board of the association, the desire to gather at Toompea to protest against unfair restrictions has also been expressed among Estonian forest owners.

"We are certainly not ruling out taking such a step. We also feel that there are more and more restrictions, but there are no fair and immediate compensations. The obligation to preserve and conserve Estonian nature and to pay for its preservation rests with the whole society, not only landowners who have managed their property in a nature-friendly way," he said, adding that the goal of nature conservation cannot be the liquidation of private property.

"If private forests are to be protected, society must be ready to give something in return. Be it financial compensation or a piece of forest from the state's economic forest. Owners cannot be deprived of their right to be owners," he added.

There are about 130,000 private forest owners in Latvia, who own half of the entire forest land in Latvia.