The Environmental Board monitors all of the work carried out in Estonia’s forests.
We assess which stands are the best suited for providing high-quality forest reproductive material. We issue permits for felling and supervise reforestation activities.
The Environmental Board ensures the use of approved basic material in the process of reforestation. The specialists from our Forestry Department monitor the import of seeds and plants to make sure that none are brought into Estonia which are likely to have difficulty coping with its harsh climatic conditions and struggle to grow. We check that seeds and plants that are sold are healthy and viable and come from suitable areas. There is as well done supervisory over forest owners to ensure the cultivation of new stands in previously felled areas and help the forest owners in assessing the results of reforestation. We grant our consent to forest owners for felling operations, and work with them to decide whether improvement felling is needed to encourage better growth or regeneration felling in the case of mature forests. In the event of forest damage – for example from rot, a noxious insect or a natural disaster of some kind – we assess its scope and investigate the cause. We then decide whether and in what way the forest should be managed thereafter. Occasionally damaged forests need to be cleared so that new trees can grow in their place.
Of course, forests are not merely the property of the people who own them – they are a wealth we all share. They provide us with building material; they are a source of natural bounty in the mushrooms and berries that grow in them and the hunting they provide; they are an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city; and they have an enormous amount to teach us about life in all of its forms. Our work is designed to limit the damage that is done to forests by human hands and nature alike. We work to manage and preserve not only the trees that grow in our forests, but also the mushrooms, the insects and game that live there, and everything else that is associated with forest life.
Estonian list of approved basic material for the production of forest reproductive material (401.32 KB, PDF) (17.10.2016);
Compared to its neighbouring countries Estonia has very few hunters, despite the fact that it is at the forefront of Europe in terms of the number of head of game. The Environmental Board is charged with the task of monitoring the preservation of our species diversity even in the event of increased hunting. That is why we have divided Estonia’s forests into hunting districts, in which we keep a close eye on hunters to ensure that they are following the rules and that game numbers are being maintained.
The key word in regard to hunting is ‘balance’: we need to make sure that a sufficient number of healthy game are living in our forests today, and will continue to do so in future, whilst keeping the needs of land owners in mind and protecting them from damage caused by the animals. Among the other tasks that the Environmental Board carries out is assessment of this damage and organisation of game counts. Working with researchers, our specialists have obtained a reliable overview of growth and decline in the numbers of particular species. Growth and decline can be influenced through issuing specific numbers of hunting permits for different game species.
Hunters can be of help to land owners
The Environmental Board is frequently required to assess and compensate damage caused to land owners by birds and animals. If a known troublemaker is behind the problem or if it is related to excess numbers of a particular species in a certain area, a solution is sought in association with hunters.
Dams made from the whittled-down trunks of trees by eager beavers may seem harmless enough to nature lovers, but to land owners and the environment itself they can cause extensive damage. In one case a concerned land owner approached the Environmental Board about a family of beavers who had taken up residence within the forest drainage system he had established. The dam they had built was impeding the flow of water into the drainage channel, and as a result the forest was flooding.
The Environmental Board assessed the situation not only from the point of view of the damage to the land owner’s property, but also the danger posed to the environment by the flooding. Due to the large number of beavers in Estonia, hunters from the area were engaged to deal with the problem. The situation was thus resolved swiftly and effectively, preventing major flooding and the forest drying out thereafter.
Photo: Kalmer Aunap