Forestry development plan passed the first reading in the Riigikogu
At today’s sitting of the Riigikogu, the Estonian Forestry Development Plan until 2030 passed the first reading. It gives a thorough overview of the situation in Estonian forestry, sets the objectives of forestry development, and describes how to achieve these objectives.
The development plan sets as the main objective the sustainability of forestry for which the preservation of forest ecosystems, the survival of their biodiversity and adaptation to the impacts of climate change will have to be ensured. The forest sector will also have to be economically competitive, and the forestry policy will have to be inclusive and take into account the social and cultural values.
When introducing the development plan, the Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas said that, under the conditions of the changing climate, an increasingly more critical issue was the good state of health of forests which ensured their capability to capture carbon and to resist the ever more frequent and intensive disturbances due to climate change. He gave the example of the damages caused by the spruce bark beetle in Southern Estonia.
The minister said that it would be necessary to carry out correctly planned and timed improvement cuttings on a significantly larger area than before in order to shape stands that would be more resistant to climate change and to secure the most efficient use of forest land. He added that concentrations of large plain areas had to be avoided when planning loggings. The annex to the development plan states that the prescribed cut should be of an even volume and range of nine to eleven million solid cubic metres per year.
Kallas emphasised that more wood should reach refiners instead of being exported from Estonia. “We are exporting around two million solid cubic metres of unprocessed coniferous and broadleaved pulp wood every year as there is no industry for chemical processing and refining of wood in necessary quantities locally,” the Minister said. In his words, the greatest challenge of the coming periods will be to enable high-technology processing of wood so that the export of unprocessed wood would decrease, at the same time avoiding a negative impact on the environment and an increase in the pressure to cut on Estonian forests. He underlined that the development of high-technology refining of wood was important in order that the maximum use would be made of wood and that only low-value wood would be used in the energy sector.
In the discussion, attention was also paid to a potential loss or creation of jobs in the forestry sector. The Minister of the Environment said that, hopefully, with the help of the investments to be made, jobs requiring higher levels would emerge close to the raw material, that is, in rural areas. He underlined that one aim of the development plan was the creation of more jobs in the country and pointed out that the objective was to refine more wood locally and to export less wood.
Under the Forest Act, a forestry development plan for the directing of forestry is prepared for every ten years which sets out the objectives of forestry development and describes the measures and means necessary for the achievement of the objectives. This development plan is the third forestry development document and a continuation of “The Estonian Forestry Development Plan 2011–2020”. Under the Forest Act, the forestry development plan will be approved by the Riigikogu.
During the debate, Tõnis Mölder took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party Faction, Peeter Ernits on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction, Toomas Jürgenstein on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction, Heiki Hepner on behalf of Faction Isamaa and Yoko Alender on behalf of the Reform Party Faction.
The Estonian Centre Party Faction and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to reject the draft Resolution at the first reading. 22 members of the Riigikogu supported the rejection and 43 voted against. Thus the motion was not supported and the first reading of the Draft Resolution of the Riigikogu “Approval of the Forestry Development Plan until 2030” (774 OE), submitted by the Government, was concluded.
Two Bills passed the first reading
The Bill on Amendments to the Atmospheric Air Protection Act (765 SE), initiated by the Environment Committee, will amend the obligation to register products, equipment and systems containing fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) in FOKA registry (the register of the products, equipment, systems and containers containing fluorinated greenhouse gases and substances that deplete the ozone layer and of their handling operations).
According to the Bill, all products, equipment and systems that contain fluorinated greenhouse gases in quantities of 5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent or more specified in the relevant EU Regulations will have to be registered in the register in order to ensure that the state has an overview of them. A wider aim of the Bill is to reduce the quantities of fluorinated greenhouse gases and substances that deplete the ozone layer emitted into the atmosphere.
The explanatory memorandum points out that the European Commission is preparing a tightening of the regulations concerning F-gases and if the state has an insufficient overview of the situation due to a deficient registry it will be impossible to respond promptly and adequately.
During the debate, Merry Aart took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction. The Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction moved to reject the Bill at the first reading. 15 members of the Riigikogu voted in favour of the motion and 34 voted against. Thus, the motion was not supported, and the first reading of the Bill was concluded.
The purpose of the Bill on Amendments to the Land Cadastre Act, the Law of Property Act and Other Acts (761 SE), initiated by the Government, is to ensure truthful data on ownership in order to protect the rights of land owners including to ensure fair tax incentives and exemptions and to facilitate real estate turnover.
Landscape facilities change as a result of natural processes, human activities and more accurate mapping and therefore the data registered in the cadastre may become inaccurate. Cadastre data are also the basis for the taxation of land. Thus, it is in conflict with the principle of uniform and fair taxation if the land owner pays land tax for a land area that is permanently under water as a result of natural changes. Many public duties are also performed using these data. So it is important that cadastre data could be relied on, the data would be integral and the quality of these data would be reliable. The data registered in national registries must reflect the actual situation in the field.
The Bill proposes a simple administrative procedure as little burdensome as possible to improve the data related to ownership. The Bill will enable smoother and less bureaucratic use and disposal of possessions. With a view to achieving these aims, the data on boundaries that have become inaccurate will be corrected, and the creation and disclosure of the spatial information concerning the rights of use of land will be regulated more precisely.
Verbatim record of the sitting (in Estonian)
The video recording of the sitting will be available to watch later on the Riigikogu YouTube channel.
(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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