Conservationists protest changes in tree felling rules

Just a few days after forest owners were protesting about the rules governing their ability to harvest timber in nature protection zones, conservationists did likewise March 7 to object to changes in felling rules that allow younger trees to be cut down than hitherto.

Thursday is the day when the Constitutional Court is holding its final hearing in the case regarding the regulations, so the picket was arranged to make it clear to the judges that there are people who fear the relaxed rules will mean the destruction of valuable forests and habitats.

The organizers of the action wanted to remind the court that forests should not be viewed only as a resource for wood extraction and economic value, but as an important ecosystem that maintains biological diversity, stores carbon, and improves the quality of people's living environment. Cutting down ever younger trees endangers it, because a difference of 8 centimeters in the diameter of a tree means several decades of tree growth, they argue.

Representatives of the initiative "100 Clearcuttings" have gathered at the Constitutional Court to express their support for the preservation of forests and their sustainable management.

 The reason for the rally was explained to Latvian Radio by one of the organizers, Reinis Boters: "In this case, to show the public's view even at the moment when the process of the recent amendments is going on in the Constitutional Court – I personally think it's absurd. I have the feeling that the forestry industry and their lobby are of course being heard, and there is a feeling that nature organizations are not being heard. And in order to make any changes, it is necessary to go to the Constitutional Court.

"These are not just emotional considerations or some people's fancy, because it is of national importance and actually affects every citizen of this country," said Boters.

As previously reported by LSM, in the summer of 2022, the government of Krišjānis Kariņš made a decision  to allow the felling of younger trees. At the time it was justified as a measure to increase affordable fuel stocks following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and an urgent desire to cut reliance upon Russian energy sources.

The permissible tree felling diameter was reduced for pine from 39 to 30 centimeters, for spruce from 31 to 26 centimeters, and for birch from 31 to 25 centimeters.

Nature protection organizations drew attention to the fact that the impact on the environment had again not been assessed and filed a claim with the Constitutional Court. A ruling is expected in April.


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