http://www.epl.ee/artikkel/477174 Finance minister Ligi blocks protection of eagle nests Article in newspaper EPL, Eesti Päevaleht, 05. september 2009 08:00 Author: Ulvar Käärt Translation: LiisPhoto by Urmas Sellis
This young lesser spotted eagle, photographed near Otepää, South Estonia, hasn’t a nesting place yet, so no worries yet about its protection either.
Ministry of Finance wants to save 7 500 Estonian krooni on the lesser spotted eagles this year.
Finance minister Jürgen Ligi of the Reform or “Squirrel” party will not bless the law proposed by his party comrade Jaanus Tamkivi’s Ministry of the Environment, by which all known nest sites of lesser spotted eagles would be protected.
Jürgen Ligi said, in a letter sent to Tamkivi at the end of August, that if this law would be enforced this year already, the valds [vald = local municipality in Estonia, roughly corresponding to earlier parishes] in whose territories the nests are located, must get compensation for the land tax that they then would lose from these areas.
Only marginal sum missing
“In the preparatory work to the law it is noted that the Ministry of the Environment doesn’t have the means to compensate the local municipalities [vallad] for their reduced income – but no answer is given to the question about from where the needed financing for 2009 would then be found”, is Ligi’s motivation to why he already for the second time this year has said a definite “No” to the proposition about the lesser spotted eagles. Because of this he recommended that the law should not be activated until January next year.
Altogether 174 lesser spotted eagle nest trees and their surrounding areas would become protected in Estonia as permanent nesting places, in a first stage 15 of those. A preliminary estimate shows that for instance Räpina vald in Põlvamaa would lose about 300 Estonian krooni in taxes from land that would become protected, Laeva vald in Tartumaa 832 krooni 35 senti, Mõniste vald in Võrumaa 2300 krooni 50 senti. To the 8 municipalities [vallad] that house nesting lesser spotted eagles government would have to pay altogether less than 7 500 Estonian krooni*
The head of the environmental protection department of the Ministry of Environment, Taimo Aasma, says that a delay in activation of the proposed law is not motivated, since all concerned local authorities were informed about the economic consequences. Aasma indicated that changes in preliminary budgets are calculated with in the compensation fund, through which the corresponding sums are paid out fully or reduced, depending on the responsibilities that are set on the local authorities. So it has been for years.
“We must as soon as possible discuss with the Finance Department how to go on with this law proposal now”, Aasma said, unable to comment the absurd situation more precisely.
Kotkaklubi (Eagle Club) proposed already several years ago that the nesting areas of lesser spotted eagles – birds that themselves belong to the highest protection category – should be protected.
Nests are lost because of the delays
•• Kotkaklubi (Eagle Club) member Urmas Sellis said that because the proposed law to protect the nesting areas of lesser spotted eagles already has dragged for some years, several nests have been lost because of tree felling.
•• „There is a 100-m radius protection zone around nest trees but fellings around them have opened up nests to winds and nests have fallen down, or the disturbed birds have abandoned the nest”, Sellis said.
•• The attempt of the Ministry of Finances to save 7 500 Krooni for Government in these difficult times, by delaying the protection for the lesser spotted eagle nests, he saw as a rather poor joke,
•• The lesser spotted eagles, at the moment the most numerous of Estonia’s eagle species, were threatened by extinction during the Soviet period, when all eagles were pursued as “goshawks”
•• Since then their numbers have gone up, from only 30 – 40 nesting pairs to nearly 600 pairs to-day.
•• The main threats to lesser spotted eagles are destruction of suitable nesting areas and disturbances during the nesting period.* 7 500 EEK = ~703.00 USD, or ~479.00 EUR