Excessive forest logging, Lithuania

In mid-2018 a so-called Peasant and Green government approves high logging rates in the next 5 years to the benefit of IKEA and other commercial interest. A civil society movement arises against this decision, including a famous film-maker.


Description

This is a chronology of the conflicts starting in August 2018. The government lead by a so-called Peasants and Greens party approves higher logging rates in the next 5 years. As some evidence suggests, it was a one man's decision - one of the prime minister Saulius Skvernelis who is responding to the wood processing (mainly furniture makers) industry's concern/lobby on rising timber prices globaly. Therefore, higher logging rates locally to supply local industries, some or many of which serve as IKEA suppliers. Also due to high dependence on Russian gas for heating purposes, the last few years has seen a significant switch towards central heating sector diversified with more biofuel. Therefore, even more demand for wood. 

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Basic Data
NameExcessive forest logging, Lithuania
CountryLithuania
SiteLabanoras forest and other locations
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biodiversity conservation conflicts
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific CommoditiesBiofuel
Timber
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsA fight is heating up in Lithuania over government-authorised clearcutting in national and regional parks, many of which are also protected under the Natura 2000 network. The conflict began more than a year ago: the Seimas, Lithuania’s parliament, approved a highly controversial forestry reform in July 2017, centralising forest governance to facilitate the sell-off of large areas of forest, and attracting private investors (notably Ikea, which became the country’s largest private forest owner in November 2018). [1].

In 2017, more than 15,000 permits to clear-cut were issued, many in parks and Natura 2000 sites. Even so, the Ministry of Environment viewed environmental impact assessments as unnecessary. The Vice-Minister argued that the increased felling was needed for biofuels to keep energy prices low; in reality, only a small amount is intended for biofuel, the rest is intended for wood product manufacturing. Local fauna and flora have already been seriously damaged as logging in protected areas has proceeded.[1]

Lithuania’s rules were amended on 8 August 2018 – during the summer holidays – to increase felling by six per cent in areas protected under national rules; Natura 2000 sites represent almost 18 per cent of these protected areas. Neither the public nor civil society organisations were informed or consulted; when this lack of participation was raised, the government claimed that no suggestions had been received. Civil society quickly organised themselves, and significant public opposition made authorities pause tree-felling for one month in Labanoras Regional Park, most of which is protected under Natura 2000, but it has since resumed at a greater pace. [1].

Tensions are rising. A protest march in Vilnius, 1 December 2018, attracted some 1,500 celebrities, activists and citizens who demanded an end to clearcutting. On 3 December, a lawsuit was filed in Vilniaus Apygardos Teismas, (Vilnius Regional Court); on the same date, Environment Minister Kęstutis Navickas was fired. The Seimas was to debate the issue on 4 December 2018, but no action was taken. [1].

For now, large-scale clearcutting continues. The European Commission has been informed of the situation but has not yet received a complaint. This is despite possible infringements to EU Directives on: the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment (85/337); on freedom of access to information on the environment (90/313); as well as of Natura 2000 sites. With regards to the Birds and Habitats Directives, the Commission sent a letter of formal notice on 17 May 2018 regarding Lithuania’s failure to designate sufficient nature protection areas. The sites proposed by Lithuania do not adequately represent the habitats and species present. Any delay in action to suspend logging while legal proceedings play out works against the climate, biodiversity and Lithuania’s citizens. A rapid response is required [1].
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesLithuania state forest company from Lithuania
IKEA from Sweden
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Environment, Lithuania
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters- Asociacija „Gyvas miškas“. The website of the campaign is: http://www.gyvasmiskas.lt/ All info in Lithuanian, English translation and also in other languages easily available (google)..

- FERN, Fern works to achieve environmental and social justice with a focus on forests and forest peoples' rights in the policies and practices of the European Union. https://fern.org/node/1511
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Famous film by Mindaugas Survila, The Ancient Woods
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Desertification/Drought
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesLABANOR'S SEAL. FOREST MANIFEST

1) Give priority to NATURAL AND SOCIAL needs in forests. The main function of the forest sector is to create and enhance the non-wood forest ADDED VALUE (recreation, tourism, education, public health, environmental clean-up, climate change mitigation, small businesses, etc.).

2) Immediately prohibit harvesting in SAFETY areas as there is no mandatory EU requirement for environmental impact assessment of planned fellings.

3) Replace brick fellings in state and private forests with logs that ensure CONTINUOUS AND HEALTHY LIVING. Abandon the division of obsolete and unsustainable forests into 4 groups, restore the integrity of the forests, form the masses of future climbers, and increase the area of ​​non-rotating forests.

4) Prior to issuing forest felling permits, active and timely inclusion of the PUBLIC into the process, giving a decisive vote to local communities. The planned crossing points should contain information tables on the intended felling, its boundaries and the possibilities to submit proposals.

5) Forest does not exceed the needs of the Lithuanian population. Deny export of raw wood.

6) Use our ENVIRONMENTALLY SUITABLE FOREST TECHNIQUES and select such techniques as to allow clear cutting to be selective and minimize damage to the forest and roads.

7) Carry out the most modern forest inventory and control of forest use.

8) Increase state forests by redeeming private forests, especially those that are intended to cross and fall into protected areas.

9) To completely prohibit the cutting of oak trees (which make up only 2.2% of all forests), increase their area.

10) Protect the forest NATURAL. When restoring forests, priority is given to self-denial. To abandon forest monocultures, follow the principles of HOLISTIC FORESTRY.

FOREST SIGN MANIFEST (word)

Labanoras Organizing Group,

Labanoras Club,

Civic Movement LIVE FOREST

Skaitykite daugiau: http://www.gyvasmiskas.lt/labanoro-zygio-misko-manifestas-2018-10-13-labanoras/
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.There is a growing civil society movement in 2018, 2019 against increased rates of logging (the wood will go partly as inputs for IKEA). Appreciation for the beauty and benefits from old growth forests is growing. The contradictions of a government calling itself "peasant and green" and increased logging rate, are obvious. Intervention by the European Commission is expected. The courts in Lithuanis might have the last word.
Sources and Materials
Legislations

Green infrastructure in Lithuania (Natura 2000 etc).
[click to view]

Links

[1] Increased clearcutting in Lithuania’s Natura 2000 sites demands a rapid response. December 18, 2018. Author: Marija Dabrisiute
[click to view]

Media Links

http://www.gyvasmiskas.lt/ in Lithuanian, translations available (google), the main wegpage of the movement

A page with videos, http://www.gyvasmiskas.lt/video/
[click to view]

http://www.sengire.lt/en, a film by Mindaugas Survila. Mindaugas has been purposefully preparing for making “The Ancient Woods” for 18 years. He felt that it was going to be particularly difficult to create. However, Mindaugas Survila believed that with his experience and the help of a reliable team anything is possible. He hoped that “The Ancient Woods” would not only attract a large number of people to the cinema theatres, but would also stimulate discussions on the theme of real values in life. “The Ancient Woods” began its “journey” in November 2017 with World’s premiere in one of world’s biggest and most prestigious International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) as a part of First Appearance competition.National premiere took place on the 29th March as a closing movie for prestigious international Vilnius Film Festival. Starting from March 30th, 2018 the movie began its local “journey” and was shown by largest cinemas in Lithuania. It already broke a record for being the most visited documentary in Lithuanian history, gathering more than 52 thousand people and still remaining at top 20 after 4 months of screening.
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Other Documents

Source: Marija Dabrisiute
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Meta Information
ContributorNora Mzavanadze ([email protected])
Last update06/01/2019
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