Constitutional Court cancels rules on younger tree cutting

The rules adopted by the government in 2022 which allow the cutting of younger trees are unconstitutional, as decided by the Constitutional Court on April 8. The Court effectively abolished these rules.

In the summer of 2022, the first government of Krišjānis Kariņš (New Unity) supported changes to the rules on felling trees proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture, essentially allowing younger forests to be felled. The allowable diameter for felling trees was reduced from 39 to 30 centimeters for pine, 31 to 26 centimeters for spruce, and 31 to 25 centimeters for birch.

Environmental organizations were not happy with this. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Latvian Fund for Nature (LDF), and the Latvian Ornithological Society (LOB) challenged this government decision before the Constitutional Court. They challenged the compatibility of the rules with Article 115 of the Constitution, which provides that the state shall protect the right of everyone to live in a favorable environment.

Nature conservation organizations drew attention to the insufficient impact assessment of the amendments, while the government justified the emergency decision on the grounds of the energy crisis and the need to increase the production of wood chips in particular.

The Constitutional Court ruled that the provisions allowing the felling of younger trees were incompatible with Article 115 of the Constitution and invalid from the moment it entered into force.

The judgment is final and non-appealable.

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