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"As a Dutchman who has lived in Estonia for 27 years, I cannot reconcile the alarming articles in the Dutch media about the decline of Estonian forests and the use of biomass with the real situation here," Piet Boerefijn writes in an opinion piece in the Dutch newspaper Trouw.
Editorial office / Tallinn

Boerefijn came to Estonia at the time to write his doctoral thesis on Estonian regional development and economics, and never left. He is coordinator for the Dutch Cooperating Funds for Central and Eastern Europe in Estonia and founder of the Estonian food banks, on which a large part of the population depends.

“This beautiful country is rich in forests and forestry plays an essential role in Estonia’s regional development as a major employer for nearly 30 percent of the people in some rural areas,” he writes. “Forestry has a long history in Estonia and provides food for tens of thousands of people.” The “strong and unfounded protests” of Dutch environmental activists cause a lot of pain among these people.

Nuance in the debate

The price that Estonian sawmills pay for quality timber is three times higher than that of wood for bioenergy, so no forest owner would consider cutting down trees just for energy production. “That is why I do not understand why articles appear in the Dutch media that conclude that the use of bioenergy leads to an increase in forest clearing in Estonia. I see great benefits if Estonian wood residues are reused in a sensible way, exporting them as bioenergy to provide families in the Netherlands with heat and families in Estonia with an income. I hope to be able to share a bit of the Estonian perspective, for some nuance in this heated debate.”

Read the full article in Trouw.

Image: sustainable forestry, young plantings after clearing in Estonia (adamikarl / Shutterstock)