TALLINN - The national designated spatial plan for the central training area of the Estonian defense forces provides deforestation of up to 6,000 hectares of land, which is the maximum possible area as the actual extent of deforestation will be specified in the course of planning, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Defense said.
Last year, the ministry made public the detailed description of the national designated spatial plan of the Estonian defense forces' central training area and the corresponding report on strategic environmental assessment.
The Ministry of the Environment, however, said the report lacked a description of the impacts resulting from deforestation and modification of water regime. The ministry added that as the plan provides deforestation of up to 6,000 hectares of land, the impact thereof on greenhouse gas emissions and removals also needs to be assessed.
The Ministry of Defense noted in its reply that even though the assessment is based on the maximum possible area, it is not, in fact, intended that the whole forest be felled in the planned mobility corridors. The extent and areas of deforestation will be specified in the course of design activities, during which the height of trees to be retained as well as canopy closure will also be established.
The strategic environmental assessment allows for the deforestation of the maximum area of 6,000 hectares for the construction of the central training area's facilities, the Ministry of Defense said, adding that as of 2017, 1,500 hectares had already been deforested and up to 4,500 hectares has yet to be deforested.
"In reality, the whole area will not be deforested or drained as the purpose of the facilities is to imitate Estonia's natural conditions as closely as possible," the ministry said.
The areas subject to modifications in water regime and the extent thereof will also be ascertained in the course of planning with relevant hydrological studies and drainage projects, the ministry said.
The report will also include recommendations for possible appropriate mitigating measures, the ministry added.
The area subject to planning covers 11,951 hectares and is situated in the southeastern part of the Kuusalu rural municipality in Harju County.
The purpose of the plan is to designate the building right for the training facilities to be constructed on the defense forces' central training area and solve other tasks provided by the Planning Act that are required for the implementation of the development plan.
Compared to the situation so far, the defense forces aim to increase the number of objects used for military training as well as the volume of planned training activities. The planned objects and facilities serve a national defense purpose.