Dozens of NGOs from Estonia call for an immediate resignation of the Minister of the Environment

On May 25, dozens of civil society organiations and networks sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Ms Kaja Kallas and Mr Jüri Ratas, Speaker of the Parliament and Chairman of the Centre Party calling an immediate resignation of the Environment Minister, Mr Erki Savisaar, because „the Minister of the Environment disseminates information that is detrimental to the preservation of the environment, makes environmentally damaging decisions on the basis of false information and does not take into account the results of petitions and polls organised in Estonia.“ [1]
Estonia is known as a forested country and its citizens value the country’s unique nature, where it is a core part of daily and family life. The Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans discussed these forests when speaking at a press conference during his visit to Estonia last week. [2]
He stressed to Estonia how „it’s important that those forests are in a healthy condition, so they can absorb as much CO2 as possible“ and that „Forestry works if it’s economically, ecologically and socially sound.“
The NGOs are convinced that Estonia’s forests are not managed sustainably, are not in an overall healthy condition, and are not ecologically and socially sound.
In his role as the Minister of the Environment Mr Savisaar (Centre Party) has not looked for solutions to these pressing issues – on the contrary.
„In addition to the obvious shortcomings at the European Union level, and indeed at the global level when we talk about climate change, Mr Savisaar has lost the trust of many civil society organisations and citizens, particularly because of his actions within Estonia. Although opinion polls show that 63% of Estonians are for a reduction in logging volumes and 93% [3] wish a pause on logging during nesting time in spring and summer, the Minister has been active in opposing both issues and questions are asked as to whose interests he really represents,“ explains the coordinator of Save Estonia’s Forests
Liina Steinberg. The former Minister of the Environment, Mr Tõnis Mölder (Centre Party), writing in daily newspaper Pärnu Postimees [4] calls the decision of Mr Savisaar to revoke Mölder’s decision of lowering logging volumes in state forests „A victory for the forest industry and the State Forest Management lobby, a loss for the Estonian people.“ He also adds: „I have to admit that for me the decision of the Environment Minister was a clear
disappointment. I can’t find any adequate explanation or justification for increasing the volume of logging in the current situation. … It is a political choice between standing up for the environment and for nature or running after the industry.
Today’s decision to increase the logging in Estonia’s state forests will put the pressure on the forests close to people’s homes where they go to pick mushrooms and berries, the community forests, where society’s pain, emotions and problems are the greatest.“ “The decision to increase logging volumes in state forests swims against the tide and in no way fits into the bigger picture,” said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform Party) to daily paper Postimees [5],
assessing the decision of Savisaar to increase the logging volumes as not convincing to fellow politicians, violating the coalition agreement and leading to a financial burden for Estonia in the future due to the country’s inability to meet the climate commitments it has made to the EU.
“Logging pressure on Estonia’s forests must be reduced, and we should start with state forests,” the Prime Minister said, reiterating a promise contained in the coalition agreement between the Reform Party and the Centre Party. “The focus of the Environment Ministry should be on how to make the
management of our forests sustainable and ensure that Estonia’s climate targets are met.”
The situation in Estonia is so bad that Fridays For Future Estonia has conducted 168 public demonstrations in favour of responsible climate policy. FFF Estonia will have its 169th demonstration today in Tartu and Tallinn, and it will be dedicated to the Savisaar problem.
“Erki Savisaar is degrading our nation by making short term decisions that affect us now, and our future generations. Pure stupidity echoes from his words, and it is dangerous to not react to it. He must step down, and the people who are responsible for putting him in this position of power must
reflect on their actions and decision making skills which they clearly lack, asking, are they too unsuitable for office?”, says Sandra Kartau, the communications coordinator of FFF Estonia.
Mr Savisaar is strongly out of touch with the views of Estonian citizens, the EU, and his own government, and appears to be acting completely opposite to his duties and the interests he is supposed to represent in his position as Environment Minister. No politician who supports destroying Estonian nature can continue in government. We and dozens of organisations call upon Mr Savisaar to immediately resign.


For more information, please contact:
Liina Steinberg, Member of Board and Coordinator, Save Estonia’s Forests;,
phone +372 5160146