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Latest news

Stay informed about our efforts to conserve intact ecosystems, contribute to sustainable development, and create a vibrant cultural space for our communities. Join us as we share stories of awareness and visibility, education and science integration, sustainable solutions, and the collaborative network and governance that drives our mission forward. Explore the latest updates and inspiring achievements that showcase our dedication to a greener, more sustainable future for generations to come.


The decision to establish the Hiiumaa National Park,  is currently in the hands of the Ministry of Climate, but it is highly likely that it will not receive approval. 

Instead of a national park, one potential option for the future is to utilize sustainable forestry practices, specifically selective logging, in the Kärdla region. The creation of the national park, which would encompass nearly 19,000 hectares, does not have the support of the local community, according to Mayor Hergo Tasuja. "The claim is based on the feedback I have received from people," he told Hiiu Leht, adding that the idea of a national park was not proposed by the people of Hiiumaa, and its scale significantly affects a substantial part of the island. Currently, the Environmental Board, at the request of the Ministry of Climate, is preparing an assessment of whether and to what extent it is necessary to consider the establishment of a nationally protected area in the areas proposed by the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF). According to Taimo Aasma, the head of the Ministry's Nature Conservation Department, at this stage, they believe that the goals outlined in the proposal can be achieved through means other than creating a national park, such as separate agreements among stakeholders or regulations and guidelines established through municipal comprehensive planning. Read more:


In the establishment of the European Lighthouse Network, Hiiumaa represents Estonia

On September 7th, at the establishment of the European Maritime Countries Association 'European Route of Lighthouses' in Brussels, Hiiumaa Development Center represents Estonia. Kristel Üksvärav, leader of the Hiiumaa tourism cluster, will give a presentation during the founding meeting about the historical role of Kõpu Lighthouse in shaping the image of Hiiumaa as a tourist destination and Estonia's experiences in integrating lighthouses into tourism activities. "Lighthouses along Europe's coastlines represent exceptional maritime heritage. International cultural cooperation in preserving, documenting, storytelling, and utilizing lighthouses as tourist destinations is entirely justified and sustainable. There have been discussions about developing a new cultural route, the European Lighthouses Route, and applying for the corresponding European Council cultural route certification. While we've agreed on general objectives, the detailed action plans for the newly formed association will be discussed this week in Brussels," explained Üksvärav. She added that Estonia has 11 open lighthouses for visitors, and the experiences gained from opening these lighthouses to visitors have piqued the interest of lighthouse keepers and tourism promoters from other countries. Read more:


The Saaremaa Islands' Joint Tourism Magazine "Mo Saared" Wins Marketing Award

To promote Saaremaa, the Saaremaa Municipal Government and Visit Saaremaa have been publishing the "Mo Saaremaa" magazine for three years. However, at the beginning of this summer, the people of Saaremaa looked beyond their home island. The goal was to promote the island lifestyle to both domestic and international tourists more broadly. Stories, faces, and achievements from Saaremaa, Muhu, Vilsandi, Abruka, Hiiumaa, and Ruhnu were gathered for the "Mo Saared" magazine. Read more:

Image by Maksim Shutov

The restoration work of Koigi bog helps to mitigate climate change

Since the beginning of August, the State Forest Management Centre (RMK) has been carrying out restoration work on Koigi bog, through which the people of Saaremaa are contributing to, among other things, mitigating the effects of climate change. During the bog restoration work, approximately a hundred-year-old drainage ditches, which were originally dug to drain the bog and extract peat, are being closed. The ditch closure work is being carried out only on state-owned lands within the landscape protection area, said Bert Holm, a nature conservation specialist from RMK's Nature Conservation Department. Read more:


The Vilsandi community is pushing for the legalization of a historical recreation area

The Vilsandi Village Association has requested Saaremaa municipality to initiate the acquisition of Laasi Pitkani with the aim of transforming it into a community harbor. We're excited about the future of this area! Read more:


Estonian naturalists encountered the rare hermit beetle on Abruka Island.

Protected hermit beetle inhabits only old deciduous forests, meadows, and parks. In late July this year, Estonian naturalists discovered a specimen of the species on Abruka Island. This finding provides new knowledge on how to better protect old meadows. During this summer, within the WoodmeadowLife project, we searched for the rare hermit beetle (Osmoderma barnabita) in Estonian meadows and oak groves. The presence of this beetle can be checked using pheromone traps that mimic the pheromone emitted by the male beetle. When setting up and checking the traps, we enlisted the help of local biologists from different regions of Estonia, writes Triin Reitalu, a restoration ecology researcher at the University of Tartu. In late July, the efforts bore fruit, and Gerta Nurk, a biology teacher from Saaremaa, found the hermit beetle on Abruka Island. Previous findings in Estonia, however, come from the southern part of the country, from the meadows along the Koiva River, where the population of hermit beetles is connected with the Latvian population on the other side of the Koiva River. The hermit beetle can hopefully be found in old sunlit deciduous forests, meadows, and parks. The beetle larvae develop in cavities of old living oaks in semi-rotten wood. Sometimes they have also been found on other deciduous trees. "Osoon": Threat from abroad endangers island trees weakened by fungal disease The hermit beetle is a large dark brown beetle with bronze reflections. Male hermit beetles emit a characteristic-scented pheromone that can even be sensed by the human nose: it resembles the scent of prunes or apricots. This is one of the largest beetle species in Estonia, with adults growing three to four centimeters in length. The hermit beetle is classified as a species under protection category II in Estonia. Throughout Europe, it is also protected, being listed in Annexes II and IV of the EU Habitats Directive. The habitats of the hermit beetle, old partially open groves with deciduous trees, or meadows and pastures, have evolved in Estonia due to centuries-long moderate mowing or grazing. When the management of these areas ceases and they become overgrown, the habitats of the hermit beetle and many other characteristic insects, fungi, plants, and birds of partially open deciduous groves disappear. Our ongoing WoodmeadowLife project focuses precisely on the restoration of these meadows to preserve these characteristic heritage ecosystems of Estonia.

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The Environmental Board is closing the Viidumäe Nature Reserve Center

The Environmental Board has signed an agreement to terminate the lease with the State Real Estate Ltd (RKAS), and the lease will end on December 31st of this year. "This means that the Environmental Board will move out of the two buildings that have been in operation at Viidumäe, thus ending the 66-year-long nature conservation activity at Viidumäe," wrote Tiina Talvi, who has worked at Viidumäe Nature Reserve for a long time, on social media. "Apparently, RKAS (State Real Estate Ltd) intends to put the buildings up for sale, thus ending the status of buildings being in state ownership for 119 years," added Talvi. According to him, local biologists and enthusiasts are looking for possibilities to ensure that the center's buildings continue to serve the purposes of nature conservation, nature research, and environmental education. At the heart of the Viidumäe Nature Reserve lies two important buildings: the main house, also known as the former infirmary, which was constructed around 1904 and houses staff rooms and an exhibition hall. Adjacent is the biology station, converted from an old sauna building, serving as a base for fieldwork and accommodation for natural scientists, as well as a classroom for students. Read more:


Saaremaa: Embracing Sustainability and Nature's Beauty - Your Ultimate Green Destination!

In the year 2022, the International Organization for Sustainable Tourism Development, Green Destinations, provided an evaluation of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa as green destinations. These two largest islands have progressed from a silver level rating achieved the previous year to a gold level rating this time. The notable strengths of these major islands as tourist destinations lie in their environmentally and culturally conscious approach to providing tourism services, as well as their strategic management of tourism activities. Additionally, a significant strength is their commitment to promoting sustainability within businesses, endorsing local services, and offering support to entrepreneurs. This recognition signifies the significant efforts and initiatives undertaken by Hiiumaa and Saaremaa to ensure that their tourism practices align with sustainable principles. Their elevation to the gold level reflects the enhanced harmony between tourism activities and the preservation of their natural and cultural heritage. Both islands have demonstrated commendable dedication to not only showcasing their exquisite landscapes and historical richness but also to engaging in responsible tourism development. The success in achieving a gold level rating can be attributed to their proactive approach in implementing sustainable practices across the entire spectrum of tourism-related operations. This includes careful resource management, thoughtful design of tourist services to minimize negative impacts on the environment and local culture, and a visionary approach to managing the influx of visitors. Moreover, the islands' commitment to supporting local businesses and services stands out as a crucial aspect of their sustainable tourism strategy. By promoting local products, services, and experiences, Hiiumaa and Saaremaa contribute to the economic well-being of their communities while fostering a deeper connection between visitors and the authentic essence of the islands. In conclusion, the recognition granted by the Green Destinations organization through the upgraded rating of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa to the gold level for sustainable tourism underscores their dedication to preserving their unique natural and cultural assets. This achievement celebrates not only the success of these islands as premier tourist destinations but also highlights their leadership in responsible and sustainable tourism practices, setting an inspiring example for others in the industry to follow.

Wind Turbines on Water

The balance between climate neutrality and diversity.

The extent of the environmental impact associated with many wind parks is still unclear. This is not only true in the context of Estonia and Liivi Bay but also globally. The widespread adoption of renewable energy is a time-critical activity. However, it must be done without increasing the risks to biodiversity and ecosystem stability. Ecosystems in the Baltic Sea, in particular, are highly vulnerable. Based on the Pärnu sea area plan established in 2017, Eesti Energia in cooperation with the Danish company Ørsted has chosen a location for the Liivi Bay wind park, which has sparked discontent among the local community. The ongoing Estonian sea area plan, to be released in May, designates other suitable locations for wind parks. Nevertheless, the Hiiu and Pärnu sea area plans remain valid and will continue to be so even after the nationwide sea area plan is implemented. The national sea area plan does not cover these areas as both the Hiiu and Pärnu plans were sufficiently up-to-date when the preparation of the nationwide plan began. It can also be seen on the national planning map that the potential area for the construction of wind parks in the Pärnu sea area plan intersects with a bird migration corridor. In Kihnu's "backyard," there are shallow areas with fish spawning grounds. Moreover, ornithologist Leho Luigujõe confirms that bird migration radar measurements have been conducted in these shallow areas behind Kihnu. These shallow marine areas are favored places for bird flights. Unfortunately, the construction of wind parks in these shallow areas behind Kihnu would be like creating a meat grinder for birds. The national planning map also shows that the area designated for wind parks in the Pärnu sea area plan intersects with a bird migration corridor. Although this corridor does not directly fall within the planned area for Eesti Energia and Ørsted's wind park, its proximity means that birds will move around in the surrounding areas. Considering this aspect is also essential for future park developments. According to Eleri Kautlenbach, an advisor in the Ministry of Finance's planning department, it is essential for the government to consider such potential conflicts, and a planning designation does not necessarily mean that the entire area has to be built upon. To start construction activities, the company must obtain a building permit. This permit can only be granted if environmental impact assessments and necessary analyses have been conducted, and the planning has taken into account possible problem areas. In terms of bird traffic, this could mean leaving certain areas untouched by wind turbines, maintaining larger gaps between turbines, or stopping their operation during bird migrations. Rasmus Errboe, the head of Ørsted's Continental Europe region, asserts that they are not overlooking the possible negative environmental impacts of constructing and operating wind parks. Sustainability is a priority for the company concerning greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity, and local communities. "Great success comes with great responsibility," he explains. Noise Generated by Wind Turbines Wind turbines generate various types of noise in a broad frequency range, including very low frequencies, which is transmitted through the water environment. While the noise from wind turbines may not be as intense as that of ships, it is prolonged. Last year, the Fisheries Information Centre commissioned a study from the University of Tartu's Marine Institute on the potential effects of offshore wind parks on Baltic Sea fish. Based on a summary of international literature, the study concludes that it is challenging to assess the impact of noise and electromagnetic fields from wind parks on fish, primarily due to a lack of sufficient basic knowledge on whether and how different fish species perceive them. The study also observes the concentration of several predatory fish in North Sea wind parks, suggesting that the noise and electromagnetic fields from the turbines have not been a decisive factor in the fishes' choice of habitat. However, it is still impossible to assess the cumulative impact of noise and electromagnetic fields on species that undergo long migration journeys during their lifetimes. Read the full article:

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