Forest improvement

In RMK the forest improvement is understood as the maintenance, renewal and reconstruction of roads and drainage systems (i.e. ditch networks).

There are all in all approximately 8700 kilometres of roads in all RMK forest districts. Drainage systems are located approximately on 490 000 hectares of forest land, i.e. more than half of state forest land administered by RMK is covered with ditches and affected by drainage.

The main objective of RMK is to keep in order the roads and drainage systems that ensure the movement in forest for everyone (both forest managers and all users of forest), the achieved increment of forests and the preservation of exiting natural biotic community.

Roads

Roads are needed in order to:

  • organize forest extraction and shipment in an optimal way and with minimum costs
  • guarantee traffic for the organization of forest management works
  • guarantee the preconditions for fire extinction in case of forest fires
  • ensure the related benefits - the realization of Everyman’s Right will become more convenient; the organization of hunting industry is improved.

New roads are built only when the economic benefit and efficiency resulting from the construction of these roads has been certified.

Forest drainage systems

The history of forest drainage is long. Drainage systems were built in forests already in the nineteenth century.
The majority of studies conducted in Estonia show that as a result of drainage the forest growth rate and productivity has substantially increased. The drainage of certain types of sites has increased the annual increment by several solid cubic metres per hectare in a year. According to overall assessment the timber productivity of forests affected by drainage has increased at least by 0,8 solid cubic metres per year.
Taking into account that 80% of drainage systems are located in the state forest the annual extra income from drainage in the form of the increased forest increment adds up to 145 million EEK that forms approximately 15% of the RMK turnover. Whereas the profits from the availability of managed forest, improved quality of timber and other factors have not been accounted with.
 
Drainage systems are reconstructed and renewed in forest to:

  • preserve the additional increment of timber received from earlier drainage activities and the improved quality of timber
  • enable the building of forest roads and diminish the costs related to the management of roads
  • gain other related benefits like improved traffic, diminished danger of soil damage, more efficient afforestation of clear cut areas (that is an inevitable side effect of forest management) and a longer period of timber transport during a year.

New drainage systems are not built in the state forest. Neither are the drainage systems reconstructed in protected forests and needless to say the allegations that open mires and bogs are still drained are not true. As usual, there are some exceptions to general principles. New ditches are built in a forest if these are essential for the building and reconstruction of roads. In protected forests and areas these drainage ditches are cleaned that are necessary for the operation of drainage systems located in management forests. Of course the alternative options are considered first and in case of inevitability the activities are coordinated with environmental services and administrators of protected areas.