Forests and Forestry of the Czech Republic - Situation on December 31, 1998

Like every year, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic issued the Report on Forests and Forestry of the Czech Republic. There are some interesting data.

Forestry produces 0.6 % (10 900 millions CZK) of the GNP. It provides employment for 34 thousand people. Wood-processing industry employs about 63 thousand people and its share in GNP is about 6 %. The investments amounted 1 714 millions CZK in forestry in 1998. The forestland covers 2 634 thousand ha (forest cover percentage is 33.4 %, 0.25 ha per 1 inhabitant). Total growing stock in Czech forests was 615 millions of m3 (average 233.48 m3 per hectare). Favourable weather conditions resulted in a low share of salvage cutting which constituted 20 % of total felling (2.7 millions of m3). Timber felling was 13.99 millions of m3 in 1998, out of which softwood was 12.25 millions m3 and hardwood 1.74 millions m3 (5.31 m3 and 1.36 m3 per one inhabitant respectively).

At the same time, current total increment exceeds the total felling by 24 % and total average increment by 16 %. There were 538 cases of fellings breaking the Forest Act and being resolved by the state Forest Administration and Czech Inspection of the Environment and they concerned 111 thousand m3 of illegally harvested timber. In 1998, 24 257 ha were reforested, share of deciduous species was 36 %, natural regeneration was applied on about 2 600 ha. Forest tending, namely in the first two age classes, represents the major condition of their further stability. Thinnings were applied to 134 thousand ha, juvenile thinnings to 51 ha. Tending interventions up to the age 40 of the stand are supported by the state.

A proper forest management presumes a long stability of ownership. Consolidation and exchange of forest areas require conclusion of the restitution process in the Czech Republic. There are legally complicated pending restitutional cases concerning about 95 thousand ha and the decision on forest properties of the church has to be taken.

The state supported forestry with 1 119 millions CZK in total in 1998. Even if this amount is subtracted forestry is profitable thanks to favourable development of timber price, the average profit was 547 CZK per ha. The balance of foreign trade in raw timber is sustainably active and amounted 3 540 millions CZK, however compared to the previous year it dropped for less export volume (by 247 millions CZK) and bigger import volume (by 393 millions CZK). 94.8 % of raw timber were exported into EU countries.

The CR together with 37 European countries adopted "General Declaration" of Lisbon Conference on European Forest Conservation in July 1998 and supported the increasing part of forestry in sustainable development namely of rural regions, in conservation of renewable resources and environmental protection. In 1998, the first screening negotiations were held concerning key EU legislation of nine subsectors of forestry. The documents reveal that on entering the EU the Czech forestry legislation will be fully compatible with the community law. Related to our joining the EU, the significance of forestry and related sectors will rise namely in regions with a low industrial potential but a high forest cover. Therefore forestry shall necessarily be included among priorities of regional policy for its ability to create job opportunities, namely in relation with the wood-processing industry.