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The oldest forest management chain – it’s woodwards, or the true values trough the eyes of a man from Šventoji forests

Gintautas KNIUKŠTA
Business and Politics 1(38), 2013


370 years have passed since the first forest district was established in Lithuania. So, it is not a coincidence that the magazine interviews the former woodward of Šventoji forest district, Kretinga forest enterprise, Rimantas KVIKLYS, who devoted half a century for coastal forests.
Šventoji forest district, stretching along the coastline and neighbouring with Latvia on one side and with Palanga forest district on the other, occupies the area of 3 thousand ha. Nearly half of the state forests of the forest district is designed for recreation. The priority of Šventoji forest district is recreation. Foresters install resort places and benches, initiate a variety of attractions in the most attractive forest areas.
Forest districts retained their significance up to now – it remained the foundation of the state forest management structure.
Do we all realize what a woodward truly is?.. Let’s have a talk with Rimantas Kviklys, who retired from the position of a woodward in Šventoji forest district a few years ago, a great person, whose father was a Member of Parliament of the interwar period.
One of the oldest and most experienced woodward of Šventoji forest district Rimantas Kviklys says that a woodward is a junior officer. The officer that everyone can rely on. Forest enterprise director is the upper echelon, i. e. the first rank of an officer.
“I have worked for fifty years in one place. I risk to be very unpopular, but I will say that the Soviet years was the best time for the beach. I was exiled in 1941, I have much to reckon with the former system, however, this is something different” – said Rimantas Kviklys to “Business and Politics”.
“However, I wouldn’t even have dreamt in my most horrible nightmare about what had happened nowadays, this tearing and sharing ... After the restoration of independence, not a single hectare was appointed for forest planting from the city boundaries. In short, we had to defend our positions. At the foresters’ concern, serpentine path for paraplegics was established in Monciškės – it is the only beach in the Baltic countries which is designed for people sitting in wheelchairs – in order to allow them to enjoy the golden sand and the sea waves maybe for the first time in their lives”.
“We established the camp for paraplegics in the “partisan” manner. Over the weekend, a bulldozer formed the path, and we pleached the dunes with brushwood and branches. The work was quickly done because the area had already been picked by so-called “New Lithuanians” - remembers the woodward.
The former woodward of Šventoji forest district, Kretinga forest enterprise, Rimantas Kviklys believes that now the privatization of state forests will not be as easy as the previous and almost gratuitous takeover of another nation’s property.
He recalled how a few years ago a substantial portion of the state forests on the beach was about to be distributed. “64 plots were split into 20 acres, detailed plans were approved and even the money was paid. However, being supported by the Greens and the media, we made noise and thus this gamble failed,”- said Rimantas Kviklys.


What is Your reaction to the recent events, which sought to destroy the forest management system?
I read the main initiators as a book… A large bite that belongs to everyone. How can it be? Why to everyone, but not me? Simple.
We were the first in the world who found a way to turn the real estate into a movable property, which not once had to fight in order to protect the forest from the bulldozer of privatization. During G. Vagnorius times, an unjustified distribution of forest began in one stroke of a pen. Before it was stopped, almost 700 ha of Šventoji forest district had been distributed within less than a year. Meanwhile local people gained only 9,5 ha of the forest, although they actually possessed it. Today, nobody wants to talk about it, however, this really happened.


How do You assess the eagerness of individual foresters to be above the others, to diminish their colleagues? I am speaking about the Professor Albertas Vasiliauskas’ book “Lithuanian Forest Management in the Restoration of Independence (1990 - 2011)” (liet. “Lietuvos miškų administracija atkurtos Nepriklausomybės metu (1990–-2011)”). There’s so much dirt...
I am very disappointed with Professor Albertas Vasiliauskas. Just as I had disappointed with the former Deputy Minister Albertas Brukas. It’s too bad when personal ambitions prevail.
I would not say that the general director of the forest enterprise is made of honey. However, no one could hold the steering wheel of the agencies as good as he does. Many things happened between us, however, he is open for discussion. Most importantly, he follows his main, cardinal direction. This is because I greatly respect him.


What is Your opinion about the forest districts - maybe they are too large or too small? Perhaps there are too few foresters? Is the current management system satisfying?
The fact that there are too few foresters - I can say without hesitation. Forest is a mirror of the owner, which shows how it is dealt with. If this is the problem, it is the problem of the directors of forest enterprises. This came from ancient times. A landlord has a steward. If the master is away, steward starts to portray himself as an owner. Maybe I express myself too roughly, however, the comparison suits here.


What works would You highlight out of all Your accomplishments?
Most importantly, I managed to reconcile the interests of human and forest since the flow of tourists is high. Speaking about Monciškės, the God should put a plus for me at this point. “Boys” were really interested in this area, however, the plot went to those who need it most – people with disabilities.
Anyway, forest and human are not antagonists, however, you need to find the connection, the relationships. This is very easy and simple.


Šventoji forests were admired by the Graf Tiškevičius, his hunting areas stretched in here. In those places the contemporary aristocracy hunted wild boar, moose, deer, and other smaller beasts. Especially there were an abundance of black grouse, which are now almost extinct. What else could be done in order to attract more holidaymakers in the future?
Recreational facilities need maintenance. It is important to present all this unobtrusively, but in an attractive way. Most importantly, we need to keep in mind children. Childhood impression is the most powerful one. What does the child see in the city? Is it only a yard and a dirty sandbox?.. In the forest, he is welcomed by one or another artifice.


Are foresters united people? Do they express their position explicitly enough in order to be heard not only by local leaders but also by the whole nation?
Most of the foresters are united. However, among the twelve apostles of Christ there also was Jude.
A man worked off, rejected those hours, shut the door - and drew the line between service and life. Foresters cannot do that in any way. If he does not see the meaning of his work, he either drinks heavily, either steals or gets mad. Perhaps I am a little biased, but basically everything is so. And it is absolutely not all the same to me what is happening there, where I have worked for so many years.


Lithuanian forests are great natural resources which are especially well maintained. How did You accept the message about the global appreciation?
Very gladly because these are objective indicators: the increase, use, growth of forests. Last year, much of the forest was saved, and in the age of maturity the forest needs cutting.
We need to bow low against the former Prime Minister Algirdas Matulionis for his works. I have always supported the idea to publish his memoirs, which have been lying in the drawers of the Forest Management Department. Professor Vaidotas Antanaitis let me read them. It is the memoirs written with the blood of a virtuous man.


Earlier we talked about other people who had raised their personal ambitions above the state property and the people who work there. Why do You think they did that?
In my times, when A. Brukas was still the Deputy Minister, in the Foresters’ Union Presidium meeting, I told him that I was disappointed with him and I really did not want to give him a hand. Why did he disappoint me? I guess you haven’t read the paper that was made under the order of Swedish. The paper was about the Lithuanian forest conversion. Check it, and you will no longer have questions. Until then, I had great respect for him since he is highly sophisticated and well-versed about the forest system.


How do You assess the current management system?
The forest management model is satisfactory. There is a Forest department, which must contain a nucleus of particularly intelligent and strong people that would develop a National Forest Policy. The General Forest Enterprise is an executive body. They have to implement the decisions established by the National Forest Policy.


Some facts from the life of the interviewer
• Rimantas Antanas Kviklys was born in on the 14th of May, 1932, Jurbarkas. A forester, Citizen of Honour of Kretinga town, the woodward of Šventoji forest district, Kretinga forest enterprises, awarded with the Medal of the Order of Vytautas the Great.
• Since 1949 worked in the forest departments. R. A. Kviklys dedicated his life to the Lithuanian forests and since 1959 cherished the forests of Šventoji forest district. During his long years of service, hundreds of hectares of forest plantations were planted in the forest district, original cognitive pedestrian paths, playgrounds, recreation areas for holidaymakers, bike path in the coast woods, landscape therapy and recreational spaces for the people with disabilities were initiated.
• On the 31st of May, 2001, Rimantas Kviklys was awarded with the name of the Citizen of Honour for merits to ecology and culture.
• In 2003, he was awarded with the Medal of the Order of Vytautas the Great, in 2004 – the winner of the “Green Angel”, in 2006 – a nominee of the “Rural beam”, the honorary member of the Lithuanian Association of Foresters. On the 5th of June, 2003, the forester Rimantas Kviklys was awarded with the Viktor Berg Award of the Ministry of Environment. It is designed for significant work and fruitful activity in the field of environmental formation and protection.

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