Last update:
2019-09-09

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
Name of conflict:Excessive forest logging, Lithuania
Country:Lithuania
Location of conflict:Labanoras forest and other locations
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country 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 commodities:Biofuel
Timber
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

A 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].

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2017
Company names or state enterprises:Lithuania state forest company from Lithuania
IKEA from Sweden
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Environment, Lithuania
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- 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
- Baltic Environmental Forum
- European Wilderness Society
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Artistic 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 of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Desertification/Drought
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:LABANOR'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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain: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. (See source [3] from 7 August 2019.)
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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

[2] 16 August 2019, from the European Wilderness Society and the Baltic Environmental Forum, on the "Ancient Forest Punios Šilas In Lithuania Under Threat"
[click to view]

[3] Tree felling halted in Lithuania's ancient forest. BNS. 2019.08.07. Lithuanian Environment Minister Kęstutis Mažeika ordered the State Forestry Enterprise to halt clear cutting at Punia pinewood, one of the most valuable forests in Lithuania. In a document seen by BNS, the minister ordered a halt to clear cutting, except for the necessary selective sanitary felling and those necessary for the maintenance of young plants. Due to the diversity of old trees, large habitats, rare and protected species of flora and fauna, Punios forest is one of the most valuable forests not only in Lithuania but also in Europe, according to State Service for Protected Areas.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

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.
[click to view]

Other documents

Source: Marija Dabrisiute
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Nora Mzavanadze ([email protected])
Last update09/09/2019
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