The army says that it needs more territory to properly test new weaponry and stage large-scale military games.
The two polygons will be expanded at the expense of state forests. More than 500 hectares of forest will be cleared in Pabradė alone. The polygon's size will double and surpass the size of Kaunas, Lithuania's second city.
“We had exercises to test heavy weaponry supplied by our partners. The polygon size was within the guidelines. But the capabilities of these weapons are greater and we need greater distances to train combat shooting more effectively,” said Major Mindaugas Spėčius.
Forestry authorities say that while cutting 500 hectares of forests will be a challenge, the army's needs trump other considerations.
“We are talking about really large areas that need to be cleared. These forests are sites of capercaillie mating and contain protected zones, but we will have to cut them down," Vytis Tupkauskas of Nemenčinė forest authority.
"Many might resent cutting down 500 hectares of forest, but we need to bear in mind our civic duties and understand," he added.