Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival saves forests with Single.Earth, a rising Estonian greentech startup

    Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival will invest one euro from every film submission fee collected to combat intensive clear-cuts in Estonia. The platform created by the Estonian startup Single.Earth gives money to forest owners for switching from clear-cutting to alternative forest management methods.

    Intensive deforestation has become a highly controversial issue in the country with one of the largest forest reserves per capita in Europe. Large swaths of land have been subjected to intensive logging, most of which are made into wood pellets and sold abroad to the countries seeking to keep their energy input ’green’. The use of pellets is causing alarm amongst environmentalists and scientists alike, who claim that the EU policy of endorsing wood and pellet-burning as environmentally sustainable actually greenwashes an activity that puts more carbon in the atmosphere as a result.
    The appetite for low-quality timber has pushed the forests to be cut at an earlier and earlier age and has paved a way for clear-cutting becoming the preferred management technique. Through the Single.Earth platform, companies can support forest owners financially to switch from clear-cutting to other forest management methods. While some of the forests will be converted entirely to voluntary nature conservation areas, others can increase the average age of their forests above the bare legislative minimum. This way, higher quality timber will be grown in these areas, which, in turn, will not end as pellets but store carbon in buildings and raw material in the wooden products industry.
    The instigator of the initiative at the festival, Hannes Aava (head of press and communication) commented: „Although the COVID-19 crisis has been, and still continues to put stress on not just organisations but most societies around the globe, including the film industry, we seem to be losing focus from the bigger problems that lie ahead if swift global collective action is not taken.“
    „Our resources for combating this as a culture organisation amidst a crisis are quite limited, but with this initiative, we hope to shed light on the problems that are acute in both the Estonian and global environmental policy. These issues seem to be largely ignored in the world’s entertainment business, which is far from operating sustainably. While not offering solutions to the problems of the film industry, we believe Single.Earth will offer solutions that can help to change the mindsets and ways we manage our forests in Estonia and elsewhere,“ he added.
    "We're extremely excited to work with one of the top film festivals in the world and help Black Nights take a giant step towards the sustainable future of the film industry," said Merit Valdsalu, CEO and co-founder of Single.Earth.
    Single.Earth is an Estonian deep tech startup disrupting corporate climate action to help businesses and organisations make a real impact on the climate and nature by making climate action a part of the business processes.

    According to Madis Raudsaar and Enn Pärt, forestry experts at the Estonian Environmental Agency, the country should limit timber cutting to around 9-10 million cubic meters during 2020-2025 to meet the carbon emission standards to combat climate change, also adding that Estonia’s timber reserves would not decrease if the cutting stayed at 9 mln m3.

    This is a far cry from the 12,5 mln m3 that was cut in 2018. Adding more cause for alarm is the fact that Estonia’s forestry industry, lead by the State Forest Management are orientated at a 3-5% growth in major assortments.


    Tallinn Black Nights FF Opening Ceremony. Photo by Ahto Sooaru

    Black Nights volunteers with wolf masks. Photo by Mirjam Rausberg