20 • 12 • 2017

School Students Debate about the Situation in the Forest Sector


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Gaining valuable experience and new knowledge on previously unexplored issues, the debate club team of Riga State Gymnasium No. 1 participated in the debate organised by the society "Zaļās mājas", JSC "Latvia's State Forests" (LVM) and Riga Municipal Enterprise "Rīgas meži".

The topic debated was "Can people in Latvia be proud of the state forest sector?". The opinion of the position camp, namely, that people in Latvia can be proud of the forestry sector was represented by students of Riga State Gymnasium No. 1: Roberts Kustavus, Emīls Azanda and Anete Biķe. They, among other arguments, emphasised the facts that the forest area keeps growing, economic indicators are improving, as well as pointed out that it is of key importance to manage our forest resources wisely and efficiently.

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The opinion of the opposition camp was represented by Valdemārs Felcis, Roberts Ozols and Elīna Strade. This team was also well prepared and rebutted its views with claims about damage to biodiversity caused by tree cutting, the lack of resistance of imported crops, etc. According to the opposition camp, mass media often give negative opinions about the forestry sector and how forests are managed in Latvia. However, taking a closer look at this information, one can conclude that only a small part of these negative and sector-denigating news is worth mentioning, since for the most part they do not have a decent content, evidence or research, only loudly presented myths and fake news.

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Students of Ogre Technical School and Riga Estonian Primary School had come to watch the debate. During the event, each observer and participant was given an opportunity to express in an on-line vote their opinion as to which team they agree with. 80% of those present said that they were in agreement with the team that claimed that people in Latvia could be proud of the forest sector, and only 20% of the visitors came to an agreement with the opposition representatives.

After the closing of the debate, everyone had an opportunity to ask questions about the processes taking place in the forest sector. The questions from the audience were answered by both the students of Riga State Gymnasium No. 1 and by Kristaps Ceplis, Member of the Board of the society "Zaļās mājas". In a positive atmosphere, the question time turned into a productive discussion, where everyone could learn new things about the current situation in Latvian forests.

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After the intensive discussion, everyone had an opportunity to visit the sawmill "Norupe" managed by SIA "Rīgas meži". Together with the sawmill manager Andris Bērziņš, visitors could get acquainted with the timber processing cycle. At the end of the excursion, in the company's Green Classroom the guests could engage in a conversation on the daily work of the sawmill, as well as on a number of other topics such as which trees are used in the sawmill, whether the full potential of timber is used, and many more.