More than a half of the territory of Latvia is forest... On average globally forest covers about 13% of a country's area.
Half of the forests in Latvia belong to private forest owners, the other half to the government. There are about 150 000 forest owners...
In order to do forest harvesting and also other activities in his/her forest, a forest owner has to receive permission from the State Forest Service.
Legislation provides that forest owner has to regenerate the felled area. Otherwise he/she is not allowed to do further harvesting, and besides that can be punished for no timely regenerated forest.
Forest area in Latvia is not decreasing, rather the opposite - it is increasing. After harvesting forest is regenerated and a new forest stand is created. Although hardly noticeable during the first years, but still there is a new forest growing in the felling area. Besides, during the past years land owners chose a different rational type of land use - forestry, and they afforest abandoned agriculture lands.
After a forest owner has harvested some of his/her forest, after a few years there is a new forest stand growing. Also in that case of forest owner has not done anything in the felling site... because the climate and soil in Latvia facilitate forest tree seeds sowing in soil and growing. The task of the forest owner is to do young stand management in order to create better quality of the forest.
Majority of the forest owners regained their properties from 1993 to 1995. it means that majority of the forest owners today have 13-15 years of forest management experience. During these years the level of knowledge on forestry as well as the attitude towards forest property has improved considerably. The data provided by the State Forest Service states that illegal felling has decreased during the past 7 years 10 times, and today constitutes a non-significant part of the total felling volumes in Latvia - less than 1%.
We should consider also a very young forest a forest. The new forest is often difficult to notice because the young trees are very small. We call this a young forest stand. We do consider children to be people as well in spite of their being small.
A tree while growing is increasing its timber volume. According to the data of the statistic inventory there are about 662.25 millions cubic meters of timber.
The biggest share of private forests in Latvia is in Eastern and Central parts of Latvia where the private forest share varies from 68% to 80%. The average size of property is relatively small - 10ha.
A big part of the private forests have emerged from overgrowing of the abandoned agriculture lands. This fact explains the tree species condition in private forests.
14% of all private forests fall into some category of protected areas and 138 thousand ha are within NATURA 2000 areas.