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Nature conservation in Estonia | Estonian Environmental Board

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Nature conservation in Estonia

16.11.2017 Soeginina cliff in Saaremaa. Photo: Allar Liiv

For preserving biological diversity and for ensuring the favorable status of threatened species and habitats, 18% of Estonia's land area and 26% of the water area has been taken under protection.

As of December 31, 2016, Estonia had a total of 3,864 protected natural objects including:

  • 5 national parks;
  • 20 natural objects protected at the local government level;
  • 80 protected areas with old protection regulation;
  • 159 nature reserves;
  • 152 landscape protection areas (nature parks);
  • 335 limited-conservation areas;
  • 534 parks and stands;
  • 1,153 individual protected natural objects;
  • 1,426 species’ protection sites.

The primary objective of the management system is to establish an updated management procedure for all protected natural values ​​and achieve the defined conservation objectives.

The management procedure of protected areas is established on the basis of the Nature Conservation Act and conservation rules of the specific protected area. The conservation rules must be read in conjunction with the Nature Conservation Act.

The manager of the areas taken under the protection by the Government of the Republic is the Environmental Board.

The areas of activity of the manager of the protected area are the determination of environmental use, ie the issuance of operating licenses and the setting of conditions, the organization of nature conservation activities, monitoring compliance with the requirements of the protected area and informing the Environmental Inspectorate of detected offenses.

The protected areas set up by the local municipality are managed by the respective local government organization.

In conservation zones and limited management zones the Nature Conservation Act and the protection rules enable to regulate various activities:

  • to draw up a land readjustment plan, to carry out land-use planning and to change the boundaries of land parcels of the cadastral unit;
  • to establish a detailed plan and a comprehensive plan;
  • to design and construct buildings, including erecting or expanding places for docking or boat channels;
  • to create a new body of water having an area of ​​more than five square meters, unless a special permit for water is required;
  • forest cutting;
  • fishing;
  • hunting and additional feeding;
  • water regime adjustment and land improvement work;
  • driving a vehicle, off-road vehicle or floating equipment;
  • camping, campfire and organizing a folk event;
  • picking of berries, mushrooms, other forest products and straws;
  • staying of people.

Protection rules must be read in conjunction with the Nature Conservation Act, as under the act these activities are prohibited in the conservation zones and strict nature reserves, unless provided otherwise in protection rules. Therefore, if the above-mentioned activities are not permitted in the protection rules of the protected area, they are prohibited under the Nature Conservation Act.

The Nature Conservation Act and all protection rules are published in the State Gazette.

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