28.01.2008 - The new structure of RMK separates public interests from business interests 10.10

At the meeting held on Friday, 25 January, the Supervisory Board of the State Forest Management Centre (RMK) approved the structural changes that separate the planning of forest management works from the performance of the works. The reason for the changes was the need to pay more attention to the long-term goals of tending forests and to make the activities of RMK more efficient and transparent.

According to Aigar Kallas, Chairman of the Management Board of RMK, the planned changes proceed from the need to separate the public interests clearly related to state forest management from business interests. “The income from the state forest management into the State Treasury is important, but the independence of the planning of state forest management works from short-term business interests is as important. The control of RMK over the planning and execution of forest management works must increase, and more attention must also be paid to other areas of application of the forest apart from the production of timber,” said Kallas.

According to the new structure, the duties imposed on RMK will be performed by three units: forest administration, forest management and timber marketing. According to the Chairman of the Management Board of RMK, in simple terms, the new structure means that the forest administration unit keeps account of the Estonian state forest stock and prescribes what and how much to cut and plant; the forest management unit performs all necessary works, and the timber marketing unit is responsible for the sale of timber and product development.

Aigar Kallas criticised the current structure for its conflict of interests with respect to the long-term and short-term goals of silviculture. “The problem with the current structure is the inability to sufficiently monitor and direct the volume of forest use, which has been pointed out by the National Audit Office and foreign auditors as well. Silvicultural works are not performed to the necessary degree and the volumes of cuttings planned and executed vary by tree types,” Kallas pointed out.

Kallas also cited low productivity in organising forest works as a problem of the current organisation of work. “Compared to neighbouring countries – for example, Finland or Latvia –
RMK employs 3-4 times more managers in the organisation of forest works, while at the same time the forest is suffering from a great labour shortage”.

As a result of the structural changes approved by the supervisory board on Friday, the number of job positions at RMK will not be decreased, but the content of the positions will be reorganised. “The number of administrative staff related to forest management will decrease considerably, and the number of skilled workers will increase,” Kallas explained. Today, RMK employs almost 1100 people, of whom 900 are directly involved with forest management. “We plan to cut the number of administrative staff engaged in forest management from the current 550 by one half, but RMK will make an offer to all released employees to continue working in the newly structured organisation. None of the people currently engaged at RMK as skilled workers will have to worry about their jobs; we will create positions in addition to the current 332”.

The operation of the new structure will be preceded by the pilot project lasting until April, during which the planned work order will be tested on the territory of seven forest districts in North-East Estonia. The results of the pilot project will help to specify the required number of job positions in the new structure. The management board of RMK plans to apply the new structure as of 1 July 2008.

The awaiting changes will not, in any manner whatsoever, affect the forest recreation opportunities based on every man’s right, and more resources are planned to be directed towards the continued development of these opportunities.

RMK is a profit-making state agency established under the Forestry Act, aimed at the sustainable and efficient management of the state forest. RMK grows reforestation materials, organises forestry works, is engaged in the sale of forest and timber and organises game upkeep. In addition, RMK establishes opportunities for hiking in nature as well as for forest recreation on recreational areas, and shapes awareness of nature. RMK manages 38% of Estonia’s forests.

Additional information:
Aigar Kallas
Chairman of Management Board of RMK
GSM +372 528 1299