Estonia's forest defenders are increasingly angry

Estonian businessmen are planning to build a wood refinery plant in the heart of Estonia, but thousands of activists are fighting against it.

Marian Männi
Marian Männi Eesti Ekspress, Estonia
Source: Eesti Ekspress
Estonia's forest defenders are increasingly angry - NewsMavens
Trees. Pexels

Why this story matters:

In the culture of Estonia -- one of the most tree dense European countries -- forests have always played an important role. War-time freedom fighters used to hide deep in the forests. Picking mushrooms is still an important autumn ritual. Estonians often call themselves the forest people (metsarahvas). Many folk songs and stories revolve around forests.

So anything to do with trees is a personal matter for Estonians.

Not surprisingly, the population mobilized as the government showed support for the new wood refinery plant businessmen are eager to build.

10,000 signatures were collected for a petition., making it the most visible grassroots movement in Estonia at the moment.

Indrek Vainu, one of the spokespersons of the movement, frustrated by the ongoing plans for building the plant, recently yelled at Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi.

The group later explained that they wanted to express how the Estonians feel. Vainu said his outburst was intentional, and that he was hoping to shock the minister into rethinking his position.

But for the government officials -- including the minister -- his behavior was too radical.

Details from the story:

  • In the mid-October Indrek Vainu, the spokesperson of EMA (Eesti Metsa Abiks, Estonian Forest Aid in English), met with the Minister of Public Administration Janek Mäggi.
  • Instead of discussing the plan of building a new wood refinery plant in a dialogue, Vainu started verbally attacking the minister. He asked him: "How many children do you have? Aren't you thinking about Estonian nature?"
  • Minister Mäggi said that he now feels like he doesn't want to have any debates with the forest defenders anymore. He felt attacked.
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