Environmental law expert Martin Triipan: a balance must be found between environmental protection and economic interests

This spring, at the initiative of environmental activists, there have been more complaints than usual that spring deforestation could endanger birds. Logging has also been suspended in several places in Estonia.

Our partner, environmental law expert Martin Triipan has analysed the preliminary ruling of the European Court of Justice, which has been seen as a precedent justifying the suspension of logging, and also considers that, in addition to forestry, other areas must be taken into account in terms of bird disturbance. “Birds can also be potentially disrupted by land development, construction and spring farming. Especially road construction and traffic in general. Legally, the rules for the protection of birds are, in principle, the same for these sectors, and the only question is to what extent an activity actually disturbs the birds.”

He adds that it is unjustified to deal only with forestry on this issue. “Calls to stop spring felling are essentially calls to stop a lot of other human activity. A balance must be found between environmental protection and economic interests.”

In addition, he considers it necessary to note that in Estonia there is no case law, but laws and regulations. “Preliminary rulings or orders in a particular case deal with a specific individual case, depending on the circumstances. It is not right to make fundamental and unexpected changes in the regulation of the sector, based solely on court decisions and in particular pending cases.”

Therefore, he finds the state’s activity in stopping felling this spring surprising and unexpected. “A more proportionate approach should be taken,” says Triipan. “It is clear, that evolving case law on nature protection must also bring about corrections in legislation. It is sensible to keep in mind the practice of Sweden and other countries here. However, before addressing the rights of forest owners or farmers, these conflicting interests should be thoroughly considered in the process of amending laws or regulations, and then acting in accordance with the law, as the case may be.”

Full articles available in Estonian here and here.

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Martin Triipan
Partner / Estonia