LVM chief: Latvia overrun with forests

  • 2008-01-16
  • From wire reports
RIGA - The head of the state's forest enterprise has said that some 30 - 40 percent of Latvia's forests should be felled in order to prevent the country from being "overrun" by trees.
Roberts Stripnieks, chairman of Latvijas Valsts Mezi (Latvia State Forests), told the Baltic News Service that current logging limits "cannot cope with the overgrowing of Latvia."
He said a recent survey on the country's forest resources 's one which took three years to conduct 's showed that there are more forests in Latvia than previously believed. Forests cover 55 percent of the nation's territory, and not 45 percent as was the long-held belief.

Annual growth of new timber amounts to 24 - 25 million cubic meters, far more than the 16.5 million previously thought to grow every year.
The average amount of logging, by contrast, does not exceed 12 million cubic meters per year.
Stripnieks said that the current limits on logging are essentially detrimental to the industry and need to be revised by lawmakers. He said the limits date back to Soviet years.

LVM, which was established in 2000 to manage the state's forests and organize auctions for logging rights, is run by the Agricultural Ministry. This year the company has targeted sales of 180 million lats (256 million euros) and earnings of 85 million lats, Stripnieks was said in November.
He said the 2006 - 2007 winter was "catastrophic" since it was unusually warm, leading to flooding in the forests and preventing the necessary logging work.
LVM's sales in the first half of 2007 amounted to 75.7 million lats, up 47.8 percent year-on-year. The Agriculture Ministry said that the result was due to higher timber prices worldwide and Russia's decision to increase export duty on logs.

Stripnieks said last month that LVM was considering heat and electricity generation as a new business venture.
"We are actively exploring both directions," he told the Baltic News Service, adding that any such project would mean huge risks, considering that LVM has no experience in this sector.
In 2006 total stocks of growing trees reached 662.2 million cubic meters, including 160  million cubic meters of mature and overgrown forest, the report said.