Estonia news; Forest, Politics, and taxes
Forest Industry news
Est-For Invest and the biorefinery
There is a plan to build next generation biorefinery in Estonia. It’s 1 billion investment, production capacity 750 000 T per year. At the moment the environmental impact is being assessed. If everything goes by plan, then the biorefinery will be launched in 2023. Annually this biorefinery would use about 3 million m3 of pulpwood and wood chips from pine, spruce and birch. The most suitable location will be in Tartu or in Viljandi County. This project has had quite a huge amount of public attention. Remarkable amount of people is against this project. Is it justified, is the problem caused by insufficient information…Will see!
Innovative environmentally friendly factory
Graanul Invest manager Raul Kirjanen has told media that they will build on environmentally friendly demo factory to Estonia after few years. They have gained a science based grant for that demo factory; 20.96 million from European Union. Project planned start date is 1st June 2018. This innovative factory will give the opportunity to produce intermediate products for different biochemicals and biomaterials. This modern technology will create additional values for lignocellulosic materials and all the fractions will be valorized.
Metsä group and the birch plywood factory in Pärnu
Preparations for a new factory are on the way and at the beginning of the year the first production lines were already there. On 12th February they started teaching new workers. They will hire about 200 workers. Full volume production is planned for second half of year 2018.
Ongoing discussions about forestry
Annual Estonian Forestry Conference
Every year in April most of the foresters in Estonia are gathering for a Forestry conference. This is the top event for foresters to discuss about forest issues. This year topic was “Forest management impact to climate change”. What are the possibilities for intense forest management and at the same time how to mitigate climate change, carbon bonding. Swedish researcher Tomas Lundmark acknowledged that Estonia’s forest coverage is remarkable and it’s a sort of commitment for Estonia to share the burden of carbon sequestration with the world. If the mitigation of the climate change was one of the purposes/goals for nature protection, then it would be justified to fell more and decrease the old forest stands and replace them with young generation. Young stands are binding more carbon. Also, Jürgen Aosaar acknowledged that with right techniques intense forest management gives better speed of growth. Jüri Külvik (Lemeks group) reminded that forest management is source of income to 107 000 habitats in Estonia. In forest sector are working 38 000 (directly) and 10 000 (indirectly), of whom 85% are working outside of Tallinn.
Environment Agency statistical seminar
Environment Agency specialists introduced the statistical information about forestry: statistical forest inventory, what it is and how it’s done, the results of statistical forest inventory and felling volumes in 2017.
Basically, Estonia’s forest cover is 51.4%. In 1942 forest coverage was 1.4 million and now in 2017 it was 2.3 million ha. 51% belongs to state and 48% for private owners. Averagely every person in Estonia could have about 1.8 ha of forest land. 25.6% is under protection, out of the forest land area. In Estonia we can divide forest land into three categories: strictly protected 13.1% (no works allowed), lightly protected 12.5% (limited works are allowed, based on the protection plan) and areas without any restrictions 74.4% (here you must still follow the forest act etc.). Just to show some examples of other countries and the areas what are strictly protected: in Finland 13.7% (out of forest land area), Germany 1.9%, Denmark 1.3%, Sweden 6.4%, Norway 5.7% etc.
About the forest age in Estonia, 39% out of our forest cover is older than 60 years. Most dominant tree species in total (private and state) is pine 31%, then birch 29% and the spruce 18%. If we look over the years (2000-2017) then the amount of pine stands has decreased a little and spruce and birch stands are increased.
Felling volumes past four five years have been stable about 10 million m3 and the increment has been much higher that the felling volume. For example, past 3 years the increment for managed forests have been over 14 million m3.
Politics and taxes
Changes in our laws – Income tax act
1st January of 2018 were amended the Income Tax Act. Based on the amendments, changed also how dividends are charged. 2018 profit can be taxed by 14% rate. Income tax rate is 14% for companies which dividend pay-out has been lower or equal to past three years average dividend payment. In case your dividend payment has been higher than the three years average dividend payment, then the income tax rate is still 20%.
“Estonian Movement 200”
In spring 2018, a new political movement emerged. Director of this movement Kristina Kallas confirmed that the goal isn’t to create new party. They will work on the issues what they have addressed: state administration, economy, health, education, nature. These subjects have involved by talking with different people (economist’s, people form bank’s etc). they have brought our one innovative thinking to merge schools (Estonian, Russian and English). This will ensure the integration of future generations. This new movement is saying that our political parties are reluctant to change something and look the farther future goals. This might be true, but if the new movement “Estonia 200” doesn’t start to show some actions, then they won’t get a sufficient mandate to make the changes what they are talking about. In near future they must be more precise and forceful, if they don’t want that their movement be just a storm in the water class.
Keeping traditions – planting with kindergarten children
Past 4 years Kristi Nigul from HD Forest has been planting spruce trees with kindergarten children, at the age of 5-7. Every spring in May Kristi has a tradition with one kindergarten to celebrate their graduations. This year was no exception and Kristi planted about 400 spruce trees with the children, teaching the importance of forests. This is how we teach young future foresters, it is important to show how the next generation of trees are planted to enjoy the forests in the future. Kristi say’s “Passion for the nature and the understanding of hard work must start at the young age…”. In this point Kristi gives her small effort!