The survival of Europe’s most valuable – and threatened – wildlife and habitats depends on Natura 2000. Natura 2000 sites are meant to be environmental havens, shielded from the relentless spread of buildings, logging, roads and agriculture across Europe. Spanning almost 18% of the European Union’s land mass, they are the largest network of protected areas in the world, and a cornerstone of the EU’s efforts to protect nature and biodiversity. Yet in Estonia, in the last 10 years the government has issued logging permits for 82,000 hectares of forest – the equivalent to 115,000 football fields – which have been designated protected habitats under Natura 2000. Responsibility for this destruction, however, doesn’t solely lie in Estonia. Perversely, the EU itself is the architect of another policy which is helping to destroy the very nature which should be protected under Natura 2000. See related: Are forests the new coal? Global alarm sounds as biomass burning surges Subsidies fuel destruction This policy is the Renewable Energy Directive, which allows Member States to subsidize burning woody biomass under the banner of ‘green energy.’ In Estonia these subsidies are helping fuel a dramatic surge in logging: in 2016-18 the logging intensity was 85% higher than in 2004-15, a study published in the journal Nature shows. In the past decade or so, logging volumes in Estonia have almost tripled, and because of this, Estonia’s habitats are expected to become a net source of carbon by 2034. At least half of the wood logged is…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer