30.09.2003 - Hundreds of volunteers clean forests from trash  29.09

The traditional nationwide cleanup campaign “Clean Forest”, the objective of which is to increase public awareness of environmental protection, began yesterday. The campaign will peak on Saturday when hundreds of volunteers across Estonia will clean local forests from trash.

The campaign that is organized by the non-profit organization MTÜ Timur and State Forest Management Centre (RMK) is carried out for the third consecutive year. In earlier similar events, volunteers have collected over 100 tonnes of trash from Estonian forests.

"By collecting trash in the framework of the campaign, our volunteers are making a stand, but we don’t only deal with the consequences. We need as much to focus on what causes people to still consider it normal to dump their trash in the forest,” emphasised Mr. Meelis Muhu, project manager of the campaign.

Therefore the main objective of the campaign is to inform the public about environmental thinking and about the condition of Estonian forests and to reach a point where people think before polluting the forest with their trash.

According to Mr. Jaan Schults, head of the Forest Department of the State Forest Management Centre, there are people who don’t even understand that they are polluting their own living environment and that of their relatives when they dump their trash in the forest. “Also, reckless holiday-makers or people picking mushrooms leave behind a trail of trash, such as plastic and glass, which decompose very slowly in the nature,” he said.

In 2002, a total of 1128 tonnes of trash was collected from state forests, while the forests in Harjumaa, Läänemaa and Raplamaa county turned out to be Estonia’s most polluted. One of the most serious problems is self-developed landfills that have cropped up in state forests after the closure of smaller local landfills. Another problem area is dumping of hazardous waste such as tires, car batteries, oil canisters, refrigerators, etc. since their handling is more expensive than that of regular waste and they pose a significant environmental pollution risk.

Around 1000 volunteers have registered themselves for the cleanup action on Saturday. They include mainly schoolchildren and their leaders, but also adults from different organisations. The cleanup will begin at 10.00 on Saturday and last for about 5 hours.

Meelis Muhu added that it was important that children were taught at an early age how important nature as a whole is for human health and what it means to be environmentally minded. “I am sure that at least these children who participate in our action at least once will in the future think more about their attitude to the nature and will be positive example for people close to them,” he concluded.

For additional information please contact:
Meelis Muhu, Project Manager
Ph +372 50 78 163
E-mail: meelis@timur.ee

Jaan Schults
Head of Forest Management Department of RMK
Ph +372 628 1523
E-mail: jaan.schultsrmk.ee