Enlightening Field Trip through the Baltic forests
The trip started in the Latvian capital, Riga, where the participants boarded the bus, that would transport them across the Baltic forests. The bus first stopped at an afforestation project in Latvia, where forester Martins Pupols explained that carbon credits can be earned when planting on farmlands.
He also showed the investors an 95-year old stand of Norway spruce mixed with aspen - with diameters up to 60 cm in breast height. The mixed stands are typical for the resilient Baltic forests which are considered to be semi-natural.
The wood processing industry is strong in the Baltics. Here both national and international companies buy the locally produced timber. We visited a sawmill in Latvia owned by Swedish Stora Enso. Wearing yellow wests, helmets and safety glasses the seven participants was guided through the big fenced area, where 800 cubic meters of timber is cut during the two daily shifts.
Here nothing goes to waste: Fifty percent of the timber is converted to timber products, whereas the bark is used for heating the sawmill, the sawdust is converted to wood pellets and the remaining wood chips are sold for pulp mills for paper production.
The investors found it interesting to see, where the products from the Latvian forests are sold, and that the industry is very modern and developed. We also discussed the current timber prices which are highly influenced by the energy crisis in all of Europe.
The bus crossed the border to Estonia, where we had the last stop of the first day. Country manager for Estonia, Toomas Kams, led the interested investors deep into a pine/birch forest, where a harvester was in action. The participants experienced the efficiency of a modern harvester and gained practical insights about Estonian forest management regimes.
Only native species are allowed in the Baltic forestry, and regenerate themselves successfully. Toomas Kams explained, how the forests are typically rejuvenated through natural regeneration in Estonia and the rest of the northern Baltic forests, where the conditions for natural rejuvenation are great.
On day two - after a delightful dinner and a well-earned rest - we visited HD Forest’s main office in Tartu, a university town of eastern Estonia.
The group was introduced to the mapping and planning systems of HD Forest, where efficient management is very important, because portfolios typically consists of many properties spread across one or more Baltic states. Also budgeting and economic calculations were presented and explained at the office in Tartu, and the potential investors had the opportunity to clarify questions.
In Tartu we also visited an Estonian plywood factory converting the round birch timber to lamellas for beds with IKEA as a big customer. Then we headed for the forest again, where we had the last excursion point of the 2022 Field Trip.
Toomas Kams showed the group around in a forest complex with different stands, among others a beautiful birch stand with tall and white stems. He showed the interested crowd how to estimate cubic meters – important tools for HD Forest when planning and budgeting.
In his pocket he had an iPad with the mapping system integrated, which he also demonstrated. An indispensable tool of modern forestry: This way the forester can navigate and register everything correctly when in the field.
On the way back to Riga the bus only stopped once for a classic Latvian lunch. The participants got dropped off at the airport after two eventful days, where they learned a lot about the Baltic Forests and how to invest in forestry through HD Forest.
We are looking forwards to coming Field Trips, which we conduct once or twice yearly. If this has inspired you, feel free to contact us – we will gladly arrange a field trip on your demand.
You can hear reactions from all seven participants by reading the article here.