Hunters: foreigners have too much power over hunting rights in Estonia

19.02.2013, 10:07

Estonian hunting clubs are unhappy with the new hunting bill that allows forest owners to ban hunting in their forests, writes Äripäev.

Last week Äripäev wrote about Jonas Wahlström, a wealthy Swedish businessman who has over a decade bought a total of 23,000 ha of forest land, mainly on the island of Saaremaa.

After the article was published, Äripäev received several comments which claimed that Wahlström and other large foreign forest owners made sure that the hunting bill favours their interests.

Under the bill that is set to enter into force on March 1, 2013, hunters need to ask the landowners for permission to hunt.

Representatives of the Estonian Hunting Society say that the new hunting bill is too biased towards landowners and suspect that large land owners have put pressure on the authors of the draft legislation.

EHS says that the Estonian Private Forest Association last year urged land owners to ban hunting on their land to speed up the adoption of the new act.

When EHS asked the environmental authority which land owners had banned hunting, it turned out that seven of the ten largest landowners that had banned hunting on their land were foreign-owned and 94% of the land in which a hunting ban had been introduced was made by forest companies. Hunters say they are afraid that Estonia lets foreigners decide over its hunting rights.

A study of the list of ten largest landowners who have banned hunting on their land in Estonia show that that 7 of them are foreign-owned including Metsnik OÜ that is owned by Custas AB  and Swedish businessman Jonas Wahlström and controls over 20,000 ha of forest land, Tornator Eesti OÜ (owned by Tornator Oy, Finland) that controls over 17,356 ha, Haanja Forests that belongs to RMK Global Timberland Resources Holdings SARL Luxembourg and owns 8,581 ha, Estonian Sustainable Forestry OÜ that belongs to Dasor Forinv 2 in Luxembourg and controls 4,422 ha, Toftan (owned by Karl Hedin Saverk AB, Sweden) that controls 3,726 ha and WWForest Management that belongs to WWForest Management GmbH in Germany and controls 3,654 ha of forest land.

Taavi Ehrpais, chairman of Estonian Private Forest Association, says that Estonia’s current hunting act is the best in the world for hunters, but the worst in the world for land-owners.

He also denied claims that the new law has the face of large forest owners.

There are 360 hunting clubs in Estonia.