The best of the best in the forest industry were honoured in a ceremony at the Mežaparks Stage complex on Friday. The annual "Zelta čiekurs" (Golden Pine Cone) Award, the highest recognition for achievement in the forestry sector, was presented to the victors, whereas runners-up were bestowed the "Zelta čiekuriņš" (Small Golden Pine Cone) Award.
Agriculture Minister Laimdota Straujuma presented the Golden Pine for lifetime achievement to lecturer Viesturs Bahs, forest manager Uldis-Georgs Gavrilovs, forest manager Arnis Gertners, forest manager Lucijans Vugulis, and forestry scientist Pēteris Zālītis.
Forest owner Aivars Bergmanis, Forest Consulting Services Center's Madona-Cēsis Department head Mairita Bondare and joint-stock company "Latvijas Finieris" Personnel Development Service Director Anda Būmane were distinguished for their contribution to educating society. Forest owner Bergmanis received his "Zelta čiekurs" from Saeima member Jānis Dūklavs.
Awarded for sustainable management were forest owners Guntis Ezis, Jānis Kebbe and Raimonds Mežaks. Jānis Kebbe, from Vidzeme Upland, received his Golden Pine Cone from MP Einārs Cilinskis, Parliamentary Secretary at the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.
In the forest industry, Latvian Local Governments Union Chairman Andris Jaunsleinis presented a "Zelta čiekurs" for innovative business practice to company "Ošukalns". Small Cones went to the companies "Krauzers" and "Valmieras Mēbeles".
Just as a tree grows from a tiny seedling, forest industry has driven its roots deep in Latvia, becoming one of the key industries and one of the pillars of Latvia's independence. Forest industry is the only industry in Latvia to have a trade surplus. Last year proved the sector's strength: the total value of exported forest products in 2011 was the highest since the restoration of Latvia's independence twenty years ago - LVL 1.15 billion altogether.
The annual forest industry award ceremony has become a tradition; this year it was the eighth time the ceremony was held. "Zelta čiekurs" stands for the plainness, openness and beauty of Latvian forests - there can be no better description of man's love for the forest, and no better award in recognition of a person's efforts for the good of Latvian forests.