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Conditions are created for increasing the forest coverage of Lithuania

2014-07-22

The State is provided with favourable conditions to acquire private land parcels for afforestation and increasing of forest coverage of the country. Such opportunity is provided by the revised land acquisition procedure developed by the Ministry of Environment, which was approved by the Government today.

The previous procedure approved in 2003 provided poor opportunities for the State to acquire private land for afforestation, as it limited the purchase price of that land. It was established that the price could not exceed the average market value calculated by the mass land valuation method. The price calculated according to this method was as much as 3-4 times lower than the average market price; therefore, forest enterprises had no opportunity to buy private land for afforestation in order to compensate for areas of State forest that were lost as a result of turning them into other utilised areas for the purpose of the implementation of projects important to the State, and had no opportunity to increase the forest coverage of the country.

The National Forestry Sector Development Programme for 2012-2020 obligates to increase the forest coverage of Lithuania by 34.2% by afforestation of at least 30 thousand ha. With due consideration to this objective and to the scope of the evaluation of forest land as other utilised areas, forest enterprises must perform afforestation of at least 1,000 – 1,100 ha. However, they do not have such areas and they cannot acquire private land because of the said limitation, even though the State budget has accumulated sufficient funds for the acquisition of new land for afforestation purposes.

They consist of compensations received for State forest land turned into other utilised areas. According to the data of the State Forest Survey Service of the Ministry of Environment, in 2012-2013 approximately 500 ha of State forest land were turned into other utilised areas and about LTL 10 million were paid into the State budget; however, not a single hectare of land has been purchased for the purpose of afforestation as a result of the low price of land established during the mass evaluation. In 2013-2014 forest enterprises organised the acquisition of private land for afforestation purposes; however, because of the said reasons they did not receive a single offer from landowners to sell land to the State.

The land acquisition procedure revised by the Government states that the price of land parcels cannot exceed the average market value calculated by the mass land valuation method, except in cases when land parcels are acquired for the purpose of afforestation, pursuant to the Law on Forestry, without exceeding the land market value and having performed the individual valuation of property.

The revision of the land acquisition procedure is also important for the fact that in recent years the increasingly less vacant State land is assigned in trust to forest enterprises that could be used for afforestation purposes. For instance, 866 ha of State forest land were assigned to forest enterprises last year, and only 280 ha of such land were suitable for afforestation, as the remaining land was already overgrown with forests and registered with the State Forest Cadastre.

Public Information Division
22 July 2014

Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas