We represent a group of Estonian environmental NGOs. Like our colleagues and other stakeholders abroad, we too are anxiously awaiting the „Fit for 55“ package, and in particular the publication of the revised Renewable Energy Directive on 14 July and the new EU Forest
Strategy later in July.
While we understand that last-minute negotiations in the Commission are still ongoing, an article published in „Politico Pro“ on 1 July has come to our attention, asserting that DG Energy has joined the industry is criticising the EU Forest Strategy and that “The critical comments made by DG Energy is shared by the forestry and bioenergy industries, including the use of remarkably similar language to describe the operation of forestry industries and their contribution to the mitigation of climate change.”
Taking into account that the Commissioner for Energy, Ms Kadri Simson, comes from Estonia, we would like to present to you our own view.
We are aware that Estonia is increasingly seen as one big wood-pellet factory for Western Europe. But the fact that we produce an enormous quantity of pellets1 relative to our size is just one aspect of a narrative that we would not wish to see repeated in other countries.
Here is a selection of additional factors to consider:
• The European Commission has recently started an infringement procedure, against our state2, 3, because we have been logging in supposedly protected Natura 2000 areas without environmental impact assessments having been made and have already lost about 15 000 hectares of forest in the period 2001-2019.4
• Many of our protected areas are under growing pressure from logging interests. Protection regimes have been systematically weakened, permitting clear-cuts and logging during the wildlife breeding season in spring and summer.
• Forests important for communities close to towns and villages are facing the same fate while citizens form NGOs, and work voluntarily to save the ecosystems on which their well-being depends.
• The biodiversity of our forests has been in decline for decades mainly due to habitat loss. From 1983 to 2018, the forest bird population plummeted by 26%.5
These are just a few examples to highlight the urgency. Further information can be found in the Estonian Forest Petition.
Please do not allow our Commissioner, Ms Kadri Simson, to cultivate this intensive and devastating “from forest to furnace” forestry model in other countries. It will contribute to ongoing damage not only in the EU, but also in third countries that already supply wood-pellets such as the USA, Canada, and Russia.
Rather, listen to the scientists of the Joint Research Council,7 to the 500+ scientists telling EU to end the burning of trees for energy and to 92 Estonian scientists,8 who support the position of their international colleagues.9
Please ensure that the forest strategy protects the function of forests as the main host of EU biodiversity, as carbon sinks, and as the places of beauty that they are, and does not become just another tool with which to exploit them.
Please follow the call of scientists and citizens to discontinue the counting of forest biomass
towards the EU’s renewable energy target.
Together we must save Europe’s forests by reducing the pressure of harvesting. We thank you for your attention.
- BirdLife Estonia (eoy.ee)
- Eesti Metsa Abiks (Estonian Forest Aid; eestimetsaabiks.ee)
- Eesti Metsloomaühing (Estonian Wildlife Center; metsloom.ee)
- Eesti Püsimetsaühistu (Continuous Cover Forest Association; pysimetsayhistu.ee)
- Eesti Roheline Liikumine (Estonian Green Movement; roheline.ee)
- Extinction Rebellion
- Fridays for Future (facebook.com/fridaysforfutureeesti)
- Hiite Maja (House of the Groves Foundation; hiis.ee)
- Ihaste Elanike Liit (ihasteelanikeliit.ee)
- Keskkonnateabe Ühendus (Foundation of Environmental Information; ktu.ee)
- Kose valla Loodusselts
- Koosloodus SA (Together With Nature Foundation; koosloodus.ee)
- Loomus (loomus.ee)
- Maavalla Koda (maavald.ee)
- Niilusoo (facebook.com/niilusoo/)
- Ohtu Loodusselts (facebook.com/OhtuLoodusselts)
- Päästame Eesti Metsad (Save Estonia’s Forests; savetheforest.ee)
- Rannamänniku kaitseks (rannamannikud.ee)
- Rebala Kultuuriruum
- Roheline Kogukond (Estonian Green Community; kogukond.net)
- Tartu Üliõpilaste Looduskaitsering (ring.ee)