George W. Bush had something called a Healthy Forests Initiative.
It was innocuous enough on the surface of it, basically amounting to thinning underbrush and making untidy forests look more like a kind of place where you might want to have a church picnic. Deep down, I figured it was driven by the same fear of unspoiled wilderness that made early travellers across the Alps hide their faces to avoid seeing mountains in their nakedness. More practically, HFI was also driven by the real motives of protecting valuable timber tracts, probably already promised to companies, and the tinderbox McMansions of Bush's Western base. And it ran roughshod over endangered species living in underbrush, and the key fact that fire is a part of the natural reproductive life cycle of most Western US forests. As far as I know, it was successfully challenged by challenging one specific part of it. As of 2003, there were orderly piles of underbrush outside visitor centres waiting to be burned, but none of the "aggressive backcountry thinning" has taken place, although Bush has undermined environmental protection in so many other ways.
Estonia has a new legislative initiative to change the Forest Act. If you go by the critics, the amendments seem to be similar in effect to the executive-level HFI, in that they disingenuously predicate forest policy on what is supposedly good for the forests -- while benefiting the private sector. The subtext of the initiative is that forests have been mismanaged for years and it is time to put order in the house.
The new Forest Act also provides legal instruments that the private sector, through potential toadies in government, could potentially use to change the nature of a forest in order to reclassify it as clear-cuttable. Say what you will about former environment minister Reiljan, but if his like returned to office, they would have much more leeway to be corrupt.
Right now, the situation is decent. Estonia, while viewing forests as manageable resources, is still deliciously wild by European standards. People hunt big game here; it's a yardstick of the state of the environment. The proposed forestry model is considered to be Scandinavian. This is not good, except for maybe the paper industry. The only reason "Scandinavian model" is not synonymous with "environmental destruction" is that there is so much more boreal forest in Finland and Sweden to clear-cut.
The biggest sticking point is that the legislators want to get rid of the provision that 20% of Estonia must be forested at any given time. (The figure is 60% in Bhutan and is constitutionally protected, at the preservationist extreme. Just for comparison.) If the number drops, what gets cut will inevitably be mature pine and spruce. What grows back will in most cases be brush and at best alder and aspen.
Other major changes (summarizing from hooliveesti.ee) state forests can be leased for more than 100 years to timber companies.
* Sales and leases will be decided by a council of bureaucrat laymen, with no naturalist participation guaranteed.
* Administrative reform will create large management zones that do not reflect specific character of local ecosystems.
* The "protection forest" category will be abolished, which is basically a buffer zone, but a key one for many human communities and natural reserves. (Protected forest is the more strict classification.)
It is supposed to be enacted on 1 July. There is a grass roots movement against it. I am trying to find out if there is a legal challenge against it, as the Sierra Club ws instrumental against HFI.
Of course, HFI was a sneaky Bushie executive-level order, this is taking place in parliament.