This paper has been prepared to provide a background to the data presented in the following tables. It should be noted, however, that explanations are not always identical for forests in different counties, since each has its own particular characteristics due to different forest growing conditions and management peculiarities.
ESTONIA'S FOREST RESOURCES
This overview of forest resources in Estonia draws on survey results from the Forest Management Centre's database. For state forests, forest management data for the period 1986–96 have been used, while for state forests in the counties of Harju, Hiiu, Ida-Viru, Jgeva, Järva, Rapla, Saare, Valga and Viljandi, only data referring to forests that belonged to the state before 1940 have been taken into account. For the remaining counties, data for forests currently occupying land previously under forest districts have been used, with the result that figures for the areas and resources of these state forests are greater than actual figures, although this has no significant impact on average figures and relative distribution (in terms of percentages). For private forests, forest management data for the period 1922–96 have been used, as well as data concerning managed forests registered under the Land Law and in the Land Register. Data concerning forests used for training and experimental purposes, and forests previously run by agricultural enterprises and state forestry districts in the counties mentioned above have not been used for the purpose of joint analysis.
According to the latest official figures, Estonia has 2,015,500 hectares of woodland, 1,942,500 hectares (96,4%) of which are occupied by managed forests. For the purposes of this overview, 885,700 hectares (45.6%) of the managed forest land has been taken into account to offer indications concerning forest management works, the ratio of state:private forests by area, and average indicators (such as average growing stock per hectare, average age and distribution by age). The estimated stock of growing forest is approximately 330 million m3 (172 m3 per hectare of woodland covered in forest).
Composition of forest stands by species
The dominant stands in Estonia are made up of pine, birch and spruce trees.
Table 1: Distribution of stands by species (in percentages)
|Type of tree||Woodland||Stands||Growing stock|
The composition of stands by tree species differs greatly between state and private forests, primarily due to the different origins of stands: management of state forests has been more or less consistent and systematic, and clear-cut forests have been reafforested with equivalent tree species, while most private forests have emerged naturally on former agricultural land.
Stands in which coniferous trees prevail account for 67.8% of total stand area and 67.5% of growing stock in state forests, while the respective figures for private forests are 53.8% and 59.8%. There is a significant difference between state and private forests in terms of relative volume of pine and grey alder forests: pine forests account for 46.7% of stands in state forests and grey alder forests grow on only 0.9 of the forest area, while in private forests the area of birch is greater than both pine and spruce, while grey alder forests account for 10.1% of stand area.
Distribution of stands by age and average age
The distribution of stands of dominant tree species (pine, birch and spruce) by age is relatively uneven, and is characterized by a large percentage of middle-aged forests and small percentages of young and old forests. Uneven age distribution is present in both state and private forests, except for state-owned spruce forests, where distribution by age corresponds approximately to optimal age structure, despite quite intensive formation of spruce cultures in the 1970s and 1980s. Distribution by age is considerably more uneven in private forests than in state forests, mainly due to intensive spontaneous afforestation of natural grassland and unused agricultural land in the post-war period. Middle-aged (41–80 years old) pine forests occupy 65% of stand area, middle-aged birch forests 64% and middle-aged spruce forests 63% of respective tree species in private forests. The large area of middle-aged stands creates possibilities for maintenance felling and the formation of stands of optimal quality in the future. In private forests, the percentage of open and uncleared areas and young forests (up to the age of 20) is considerably lower than in state forests, with the result that distribution of private forest stands by age is more asymmetrical and large portions of stands are occupied by intermediate age-level trees. Since the percentage of old stands is also relatively smaller in private forests, the average ages of stands in state and private forests are close in the case of all tree species, despite differences in age distribution, except for spruce trees where the average age in private forests exceeds the average age in state forests by 14 years. Furthermore, as the average age of private spruce forests is relatively high, and the area covered by spruce trees over the age of 60 is relatively high (66% of total spruce forest area), the potential to use wood is also high (46% of the total wood use potential).
Average valuation score
The average valuation score of private forest stands exceeds that of state forests by 0.6, mainly due to a higher valuation score for coniferous stands in private forests. This difference is due to different types of growing sites in stands: state forests contain more pine forests growing on wet, marshy soil and dry heath sand, while private forests are dominated by coniferous stands growing in temperately damp and fresh sites. Average valuation scores for deciduous stands are roughly similar, with the biggest difference occurring in the case of aspen forests.
Average growing stock per hectare
The average growing stock per hectare is closely related to both the distribution of stands by age and conditions in stand growing sites. As a result of a better valuation score and a relatively small share of young forests, the average growing stock per hectare of coniferous stands in private forests considerable exceeds the corresponding figure for state forests. At the same time, the figures for average growing stock per hectare of deciduous tree stands are close in state and private forests, except for aspen forests, where state forests have a higher percentage of old stands and a higher valuation score.
The tables that follow present data concerning aspects of Estonia's forest sector.
Table 1: Economic indicators for state forests (1936–96)
|Indicators||Unit of measurement||1936||1966||1996|
|Area of wooded land||'000 ha||694||932||1142|
|Area of stands||'000 ha||643||862||903|
|(incl. planted forest)||'000 ha|
|Pine forest||'000 ha||269||405||422|
|Spruce forest||'000 ha||185||174||190|
|Birch forest||'000 ha||155||239||250|
|Volume of final fellings||'000 m3/year||1404||1369||1580|
|Volume of thinnings||'000 m3/year||693||924||1059|
|Tending of young plantations||ha||6814||12256||6624|
|Establishment of young plantations||ha||4421||6727||4297|
|Number of forest districts||102||190||152|
|Average area of wooded forest land in forest districts||'000 ha||10.8||7.9||7.5|
|Number of divisions in a forest district||242||436||420|
|Average area of wooded forest land in divisions in a forest district||'000 ha||2.6||3.1||2.7|
|Number of beats||1448||1645||1457|
|Average area of wooded forest land in beats||'000 ha||0.5||0.8||0.8|
|Intensity/woodland with 1000 ha of forest|
|Maintenance of young stands||ha||10.6||14.2||7.3|
|Foundation of forest cultures||ha||6.9||7.8||4.7|
Table 2: Distribution of stand areas of forests by prevailing tree species
|Dominant tree species|
|Country||Form of ownership||Area of managed stands (ha)||Pine||Spruce||Larch||Oak||Ash||Birch||Aspen||Black alder||Grey alder|
Table 3: Share of dominant tree species by area in state and private forests
|Species||State forests||Private forests|
Table 4: Share of dominant tree species by growing stock in state and private forests
|Species||State forests||Private forests|
Table 5: Violations of forest protection regulations by forest ownership category (1997)
|County||Number of violations||Number of illegal fellings||Illegally-felled timber (m3/sol. vol)||Value of damage|
Table 6: Distribution of damaged forest areas by cause (1996)
|Cause of damage|
|Forest department||Total area|
|Heterobasidion annosum, Armillaria sp.||Spruce bark beetle||Pine crown weevil||Beaver||Unfavourable water conditions||Windfall||Forest fires||Looper||Pine weevil|