Estonia Backs Forest Economy to Forge Green Bond with EU

Building "nature positive" industries critical as Estonia transitions from a copious oil dependent economy.

Thu 21 Mar 24


Estonia is exploring forest-based solutions as it continues its pivot from Russia. It comes as the government wants to harness its 50% forest cover better to create “nature-based solutions” and forge deeper ties with the EU. 

On Tuesday, Wood Central reported that Estonian state-based RMS – the country’s largest forest owner and manufacturer has considered dropping FSC over disputes with its new standards.

At the time, Kristjan Tõnisson, one of RMK’s influential board members, said that Estonian producers might instead rely on PEFC (the other international certification scheme), which has operated in the country “parallel to FSC since 2010.”

According to Eve Rebane, CEO of the Estonian Forest Certification Council – the PEFC-aligned national standard, “PEFC certification is carried by 1,692,640 hectares of Estonian forest land, broken up into 1,405,457 hectares of state forest (primarily managed by RMK) and 287,182 hectares of privately owned land.”

Speaking to Wood Central overnight, Ms Rebene said that PEFC, the world’s largest forest certification scheme, has greatly assisted Estonian companies in gaining market access to the EU during the Ukrainian war, “demonstrating the importance for companies in mitigating risks.”

“At the same time, many companies who had previously mitigated their risks and held PEFC certification have gained a competitive advantage in entering these new markets,” she said.

Ms Rebene has been involved in developing Estonia’s PEFC-aligned national standard – footage courtesy of @pefcinternational.
Estonia’s fast-developing forest economy

In September, Estonia began embracing a green economy after introducing its climate law, a crucial part of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’s alignment with the EU’s “Green Deal.” The law will come into full effect in 2025, and Estonia will join an increasing number of EU countries that have made firm climate commitments.

Last year, Wood Central reported that the climate law will see significant investment in Estonia’s timber industry, including in plywood production, which Estonian manufacturers use to supply furniture to the EU.

Already, Estonian timber manufacturers export various timber products, including sawn and planed timber, pre-fabricated structural details for homes and furniture manufacturers, and modular buildings.

All carry PEFC and FSC certification, which is critical for trading in global markets – especially in Danish and German markets, which are considered key markets for Estonian manufacturers.

Over the past 25 years, greenfield investments have played an essential role in developing the Estonian wood industry, allowing it to become a high-tech industry that responds very well to the market’s needs regarding the quality of products and security of supply.

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“A huge progress in political ambition has helped make this possible,” according to Kristi Klaas, Estonian Deputy Secretary General for Green Transition. She said the last two years have been fascinating with the green transition sweeping the country. 

This “green transition’ has seen the government approve plans for Estonia’s largest “wooden building” – which broke ground last year – after it awarded the construction contract in what it has hailed “the future of construction.” 

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Wood Central understands that mass timber – specifically cross-laminated timber and glulam beams is featured extensively in the building’s three volumes—renders provided by Kavakava Architects.

Known as ‘Environmental House, ‘ the €54.4 million net-zero project was designed by local architecture firm Kavakava and will consolidate several Estonian government agencies under one roof.

According to Pärtel-Peeter Pere, the government’s deputy whip and editor-in-chief of the country’s 2040 urban plan, the project is essential to building the credibility and reputation of its forest products industry, which is key to its green transition.

“With the best will in the world, no one orders Estonian products just like that; we have to prove ourselves. The environmental house (Pere refers to it as a Loodusmaja, a nature house) provides this opportunity,” he said.

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Estonian Urban Planner and Deputy Whip strongly support timber mandates for government buildings.

The project is part of a broader push to construct public buildings out of timber, with the Estonian government pushing to mandate its use in building and construction.

When completed, ‘Environmental House’ will house the Estonian Museum of Natural History, the Environmental Board, the Environmental Agency, and the Centre for Environmental Investment.

The building, totalling 24,660 square meters, will be built in Tallinn’s Lennusadama neighbourhood at Vesilennuki 12. It will include a massive green courtyard that will also double as an exhibition space for the museum. 


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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