On Wednesday, representatives of the Ministry of Environment and the group of non-governmental organizations “Girių spiečius” met to discuss the annual rate of main forest cuttings of state forests for the years 2024-2028 and together they sought a common solution.
The meeting was also attended by the heads of the State Forestry Office, the State Forestry Service and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė’s environmental protection advisor Dalius Krinickas.
“We are glad that non-governmental organizations have responded to the invitation to exchange opinions on setting the rate of forest cutting for the coming five years. In the meeting, we not only discussed the topic of the forest cutting rate, but also other issues”, says Deputy Minister of Environment Kęstutis Šetkus.
During the meeting, the head of the Forest Policy Group of the Ministry of Environment, Nerijus Kupstaitis, presented the procedure for determining the rate of forest cutting and emphasized that it is proposed to increase the annual rate of the main forest cutting for the next five years not by 6.42%, as some organizations claim, but only by 2.67%. : from 11,850 ha to 12,166 ha of clearcut equivalent area.
N. Kupstaitis also specified that the area of state forests increased by 34 thousand during the past 5 years. ha, and of these mature forests increased by 14 thousand. ha., so although the felling rate, calculated in hectares, seems a little higher, the intensity of forest felling is not increased.
Specialists of the Ministry of Environment emphasized that the main forest cuttings are not planned and are not and will not be carried out in forest habitats of European Community importance located in state forests. All deforested areas are restored within set deadlines, and the volume of felling has no effect on forest cover, which is increased only by reforesting where they did not grow before, or by preserving naturally unforested areas.
After the representatives of non-governmental organizations expressed concern about the accuracy of the methodology that determines the felling rate, the specialists of the Ministry of the Environment explained that the methodology reflects the pan-European principles of sustainable and balanced forest management and even forest use and, in principle, allows to ensure an uninterrupted supply of wood while preserving the reserve of mature forests for the future.
In addition, according to the methodology, the rate of deforestation is primarily applied in forests intended for timber extraction (groups III and IV), so the most valuable (groups I and IIA) or socially important recreational (group IIB) forests will not be affected. However, taking into account the arguments of non-governmental organizations, the possibility of revising the methodology was discussed during the preparation of the new draft of the Forest Law and in cooperation with scientists and representatives of public organizations.
Regarding the objectives of the Green Course, it is important to understand that the Green Course is not only about preserving biodiversity in forests, but also about the bioeconomy, where materials such as concrete or steel are replaced by organic and wood materials, thus contributing to the mitigation of climate change.
In order to respond to different interests, during the meeting it was agreed that representatives of non-governmental organizations will be included in inter-institutional groups where forest policy issues are discussed.