The land forest are major natural resources in Latvia
The most marketable and effectively used forestry product is wood. The forest or forest ecosystem is very special because of its multifunctionality - it produces wood and also provides a number of ecosystem services – protects water and soil, individual trees or large tracts of forest saves cultural and historical traces, the forest is also a significant landscape element, etc.
In Latvia, wood production is one the major sectors of the national economy. Forest area and resources accumulated there are not diminishing but is still growing, enhancing a positive impact of the forest on the national economy.
Upon planning and organizing forestry in Latvia, all forest functions are respected, taking into account ecologic and social role of the forest. For example, to protect soil from erosion, there are specific regulations in place for forest management and utilization of natural resources along water bodies. Just as in Latvia, a considerate practice is implemented for conservation of forest flora and fauna.
Forestry sector consists of forestry industry and woodworking industry. The forest industry covers forest land management in a full forest growing cycle, preparation and marketing of forestry products. Forestry products have material (wood, mushrooms, berries, etc.) and immaterial (biological diversity of forests, recreation possibilities and services, mainly protecting functions of the forest, etc.) aspects. Whereas, woodworking industry in Latvia is processing the wood produced by forests – round wood, logging debris, production of pretreatment and further processing products.
Forestry has been successfully developing in circumstance of market economy. Exports of forestry products in the last 20 years increased more than 70 times, and this was encouraged by several factors: a high quality and available source of raw materials (forest resources, sustainable traditions, knowledge) as well as an ability of the State and sectoral interest groups to agree on sustainable targets of the forestry development and on strategic guidelines and principles for attainment of these targets, which have been incorporated into Latvia’s Forest Policy.
On April 28, 1998, the government of Latvia adopted the Forest Policy, which has been developed upon reaching a compromise among all stakeholders interested in the forestry. Prerequisites of a sustainable forest management are the targets defined and principles established in Latvia’s Forest Policy, implementation of which is ensured by sectoral planning documents and regulatory acts: Guidelines for development of forestry and related sectors, Forest Law and other regulatory acts governing the management of forests.
Since 2000, the Ministry of Agriculture is performing the regulatory function laid down in the Forest Policy, the monitoring function is in the competence of the State Forest Service, but the major part of the forest area possessed by the State, is managed by the State owned business operator – the State stock holding company “Latvijas valsts meži” (Latvian State Forests). The supporting function is ensured by the measures implemented by governmental institutions and the State financing from the Forestry Development Fund, the Hunting Development Fund and other State finance resources earmarked for the development of forestry. Performance of the State public rights and the State private rights has been institutionally separated. To ensure that opinions of different groups of interests have been heard, the Forestry Consultative Committee has been established.