Pensioner Nikolajs Kukne has only started collecting the remains of felling areas in one of Rīga's forestry districts this month. Although he has gas heating at his residence, furnaces have also been preserved, which is now an advantage.
"The pension for me, unfortunately, is not enough to pay for utilities. I applied for the housing allowance, but 'one hand gives, the other takes away'. But we have to live. I drove into the woods on the way, and I'll gather firewood myself again. It's my saving grace," said the pensioner.
Forest scientist Modris Martinovs from the company Rīga Forests said: “Various residue of felling areas can be found in the forest. They are mostly pine branches, but different branches of bush are also present. You can sometimes see an aspen. [..] Everything that's left here can be collected."
In Rīga, the forest of Jugla, residents can collect the remains of trees and shrubs in an area of approximately 120 hectares. The main thing is a permit and the rules must also be followed: all types of felling residues up to 20 centimeters in diameter may be taken. If it is fatter, the part of the plant may be not more than a meter in length.
As energy costs rise, demand for free wood is nearly twice as high as last year, with more than a hundred applications registered, according to Rīga Forests.
Rīga Forests' permit to collect the remains of felling areas shall be granted for a period of 30 days in a particular area of forestry. If necessary, it is necessary to re-apply, said Martinovs,
Demand has also doubled in the forests elsewhere, where by the end of the year 5,000 applications are likely to have been received, said Guntis Ščepaniks, representative of the State AS Latvian State Forests.