The president of Estonia visited the mire restoration areas and new trail

The team of the LIFE Mires Estoniahas the pleasure and honour to report that the president of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid and her staff found an opportunity to visit the mires being restored on the initiative of the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF), and the recently completed Tudu educational trail.

If one were to set up a quiz and ask how many incumbent presidents have visited mires under active restoration, Estonia would be able to answer that at least one of the presidents definitely has. Many countries sadly (no longer) have any mires and/or ways to restore them, and it must be said that many countries have no president, either. Estonia would get maximum points for the question.


The president Kersti Kaljulaid on Tudu trail

Mires in general and, sadly, Tudusoo in particular among them have been subjected to intense draining since the middle of the previous century. The total area of mires has decreased almost three times because of that. The mire inventory undertaken in 2013 by the Estonian Fund for Nature (Leibak, Paal) showed that treeless mires and treed mires constitute just over 5 per cent of the total area of Estonia (i.e. 2,400 km2). There are also about 2,000 km2 of mire forests in Estonia. Mires have completely disappeared in many other areas in Europe. In this context, it is very difficult to overestimate the value of mires – they have a special role to play as balancers of water levels, as carbon sinks particularly in the long-term perspective, as water purifiers, as a unique habitat. Besides, don’t we all love mire berries – the cranberries and cloudberries?

In a situation where there are few mires left, one possibility is to create such conditions in a drained mire which make it possible for the mire to recover. In the context of mire restoration, it entails raising the water level with dams and, in the case of restoring a treeless mire, also cutting down trees as an extreme measure. Even though the recent Biodiversity Strategy deems restoration of 30 per cent of habitats as an important solution to preserve the continuity of human life, it can be said that the restoration of mires is still a novel and is not particularly picturesque as an activity . Taking this into consideration, it is even more motivating when a head of state finds time and is willing to come straight to the mire to see how it is being restored and how such an undertaking is presented to the interested people on the educational trail.

President Kersti Kaljulaid opined that abandoned peat extraction areas should definitely be restored, because in their current condition they are carbon emitters and unsuitable as habitats. President Kaljulaid visited mire restoration areas located in a protected area and stated that we must pay more attention to our conduct outside the protected areas. ‘Even today I noticed how on one side of the road mires were restored using EU funds, and on the other side of the road EU funds were used to drain mires for agriculture. In nature, one cannot draw clear lines and separate parts from the whole. Ill-considered activity outside a protected area can damage the protected area. The fragmentation of landscapes supports neither biodiversity nor the integrity of our ecosystems.’ Approximately 70 per cent of the remaining mires are protected in Estonia, and the restoration works are being conducted in said protected areas. On private land, ditches are closed and water levels altered only with the landowner’s permission. A few landowners have given consent that their lands can be turned into wetter conditions. We still have a way to go before it becomes common knowledge why we need mires and how we all can help them recover. One way to achieve that is raising awareness about what mire restoration means.

Tudu or Järvesoo educational trail in the Tudusoo nature reserve is 0,7 kilometres in length and can be traversed in both directions. It provides a unique opportunity in Estonia to see up close how a formerly drained mire gradually regains the characteristic and the biota of a wetland. ‘Fingers crossed that the immediate experience of restoration work piques the visitors’ interest to come and see at least once a year how Tudusoo is recovering. Isn’t it fascinating to have an opportunity to observe the rebirth of such a rare biome – the mire? The “whys” and “hows” of the restoration work can be found on the information boards,’ says Piret Pungas-Kohv, environmental awareness expert at the Estonian Fund for Nature and one of the creators of the Tudu trail.

The educational trail has been built in such a way that accommodates wheelchair users and parents with baby prams. It is also equipped with a handrail and is thus suitable to the visually impaired. People on the trail are accompanied by an abundantly illustrated outdoor book that tells the story of the history of Tudu, the mire, its species, and the restoration works. In the book, adults are guided by Mihkel and his wife Mann, and Leet, an old friend of Mihkel’s father. Children get to converse with little ogres Modris and Kalli. Information in English and Russian is also displayed on boards along the trail. Those interested in pictures can focus on the illustrations and photographs of the species. You are very welcome to visit the trail.

Tudusoo is one of the six protected mire areas (7600 hectares all together) that are being restored under the initiative of the Estonian Fund for Nature. The restoration works constitute mostly of refilling and damming the ditches. The new educational trail was completed in cooperation between the Estonian Fund for Nature, the University of Tartu, the NGO Arheovision, the State Forest Management Centre, and the Environmental Board. The construction of the trail was supported by the EU LIFE Programme and the Environmental Investment Centre within the framework of the project Conservation and Restoration of Mire Habitats.


Photos of the president’s hike and the educational trail, to be used with the press release, author Kaidi Aher

Additional information:

Video clip about mire restoration:

Information boards at Tudu nature trail in English:

Piret Pungas-Kohv

Wetlands environmental awareness expert, Estonian Fund for Nature

Tel +372 5344 0791


Jüri-Ott Salm

Head of the wetlands programme of the Estonian Fund for Nature

Tel +372 529 5933


Capercaillie camera 2020

Text: Triin Leetmaa, Urmas Sellis, Andres Kalamees

Photos: Fleur, Elina Mélet-Garel, Andres Kalamees, Urmas Sellis

livestream | news | forum

The Capercaillie lek camera was installed in cooperation between Eagle Club and Birdlife Estonia in Lääne-Virumaa Tudusoo SPA. Nine displaying male capercaillies were counted in this lek in 2019. Hopefully, we will be able to verify that number with the help of the camera. Compared to the previously watched capercaillie lekking site in Võrumaa, this year’s lekking site has much denser vegetation, which in the long run may render the place unsuitable for the capercaillie. Estonian Fund for Nature is carrying out water level restoration works in Tudusoo bog to slow the vegetation growth and restore the bog habitat. The camera is situated in the centre of the lek, but as the males move around during the display, not all of them might be visible from the camera. Also, it is not possible to detect the direction of the sound from the camera, which makes it difficult to find the males. Therefore, the camera does not replace traditional monitoring schemes, but complements and clarifies the monitoring results.

Male capercaillies are not on the lekking site for 24 hours a day, but arrive at sunset. The arrival is accompanied by the loud rattling sound of the wings. In the morning, the capercaillies display begins already in the dark – 2-3 hours before sunrise – and lasts until mid-morning. Afterwards, the males leave to rest and feed in the neighbouring areas.

Every male capercaillie has his own territory on the lekking site, but everyone wants the best one for themselves. When a hen arrives, the boundaries of the territory are no longer respected and there can be fights between the males. Many male capercaillies have scars from fights on their faces or necks, but usually duelling is limited to posing only.

The camera system was installed in mid-March. It is a remotely operated AXIS P5635-E Mk II PTZ camera that can be moved, tilted and zoomed by a volunteer operator. The microphone is somewhat away (behind) from the camera so that the buzzing sound of the camera wouldn’t be heard.

If necessary, all power consumers are switched off during the night and on again in the morning. This significantly reduces energy consumption and eliminates the need to replace the batteries.

Andres Kalamees, Omar Neiland and Elina Mélet-Garel are installing the camera control box. It is located near the solar panels further away from the camera, behind the cam tree.

Solar panels work well when there is no snow on them and the sun is shining. When the days get longer, the camera can be turned on for 24 hours a day. This can be adjusted remotely without visiting the lekking site.

These solar panels have to be placed closer to the sun. Elina and Urmas are discussing how to do that.

Andres had to push from the ground…

… and Urmas pull from the top of the energy tree.

Data transmission from the forest is done via 4G mobile network, which can make it difficult to operate the camera if the network is overloaded, but fortunately, the most active hours of capercaillies and humans are different. Nevertheless, in the current situation where people work remotely from the countryside, it is not favourable for us – GSM network is quite often full. 

Installing 4G antenna.

The camera is streamed through the Eagle Club Estonia’s YouTube channel. Preparing and recording the camera signal for streaming has not yet found a home server, it is temporarily handled by the Beta Group OÜ.

The cables have to be fixed as high as possible and it is good to have a self-moving ladder in hand. (Elina, Urmas ja Omar)

Contributors are welcome with each camera, as some components need to be replaced every year and we do not have any project support for hardware costs. The Environmental Investment Center supports the installation, removal and maintenance of cameras.

Capercaillie lek camera team and supporters:

Eagle Club – camera installation, project coordination

Beta-Grupp – camera testing and setup, microphone construction, technical support

Looduskalender – forum on the Web

Eesti Ornitoloogiaühing – camera itself and information about species

AkuKeskus Tartu – battery assistance

Environmental Investment Center – financial support

Private donors –  to cover unexpected and expected hardware costs

Volunteer operators – to move camera view in right direction

Thousands of viewers – the most important, because otherwise the cameras would not make much sense!

Oandu põlevkivikaevanduse kavandamine Sirtsi lka kõrvale

VKG Kaevandused OÜ kaevandamisloa taotluse alusel algatas keskkonnaamet Oandu kaevanduse keskkonnamõju hindamise (KMH). Eesti Keskkonnaühenduste Koda, mille liige on ka Eestimaa Looduse Fond, esitas seisukohad ja ettepanekud KMH programmile. Kuna tööd võivad mõjutada ka sootaastamistööde tulemuslikkust Sirtsi looduskaitsealal, aitasime omalt poolt kaasa ettepanekute koostamisel. Taotletav kaevandusala asukoht on esitatud alloleval joonisel (pärineb KMH dokumentidest).

Eesti Keskkonnaühenduste Koda on seisukohal, et arvestades põlevkivi kaevandamise ja kasutamisega kaasnevat panust kliimasoojenemisse ning rahvusvahelisi ja Eesti riiklikke kliimaeesmärke, ei ole uute kaevanduste avamine otstarbekas. Kahetsusväärselt on Oandu kaevandamisloa menetlus siiski algatatud.


Muuhulgas pandi ette järgnevat:

– KMH käigus tuleb hinnata, kuidas mõjutab kaevandamine Sirtsi looduskaitseala märgalasid ja nendega seotud looduskaitselisi väärtusi, sh sootaastamisalasid.

– Kirjutada KMH programmis täpsemalt lahti hüdrogeoloogilise modelleerimise osa: mis tüüpi mudeldamist kasutatakse, kui suurt ala ja veekihte käsitletakse, millised on mudeli rajatingimused ja kust need andmed saadakse, millised andmepunktid on üldse sellel alal olemas mudeli kalibreerimiseks ja valideerimiseks. Meie andmetel on selles piirkonnas vaatlusvõrk puudulik ning tuleb kõigepealt luua. Vaatlusvõrk peab kindlasti võimaldama hinnata ka mõju Tudu asulale ja selle veevarustusele. Selleks, et hüdrogeoloogilist mudelit saaks millegagi võrrelda, tuleb esmalt teha pidevseiret minimaalselt kahe aasta jooksul.

– Hinnata ühendatud mudeli abil maastiku kuivenemist ja sellest tulenevat võimalikku elustiku muutust ka kaevandusalast kaugemates piirkondades – Selisoo näitel saab väita, et sellise kuivenduse mõju veetasemele jõuab ka kilomeetreid eemal olevate rabade keskosades soopinnani läbi meetrite paksuse turbakihi. Maastiku kuivenemine toob kaasa kalade ja konnade arvukuse kahanemise ning seeläbi ka kaitsealuse must-toonekure toidubaasi kahanemise. Olulise mõjuna hinnata siinkohal ka veerežiimi võimaliku muutmise mõju kalade ja kahepaiksete paljunemisvõimaluste vähenemisele – võivad kaduda ajutised lombid ja üleujutused, milles vee-elustik on kohanenud paljunema (rabakonn, vesilik, mõned kalad, putukad). Samuti muutub puistu metsise elupaikades kuivenduse mõjul liiga tihedaks (n siirdesood ja soomännikud) ning suur lind ei saa seal enam lennata, mängida ja ka poegi üles kasvatada. Aga mujale pole neil ka minna, sest sobivat loodusmaastikku pole mujal kui kaitsealadel. Sirtsi soostik on üks esinduslikum metsise eluaala Eestis üldse. Siin on metsise arvukus viimasel ajal isegi tõusnud, kui fragmenteerunud maastikus see endiselt langeb. Kuivenduse korral vähenevad Sirtsi põlise asuka, kaljukotka saagialad. Seda tuleb vältida.

– Palume ka täpsustada, kuidas hüdrogeoloogilise mudeli tulemused kantakse üle taimestikule – milliseid põhjaveetaseme muutusi hinnatakse oluliseks mingit tüüpi Natura 2000 elupaiga puhul. Tuua KMHs välja vastavad kriteeriumid ning arutluskäik, kuidas on nendeni jõutud.

– Lisaks taimestikule on oluline tuua välja hüdroloogiliste muutuste mõju linnustikule (Natura linnualad), arvestades lisaks ka müra ja vibratsiooni ning ajalist mõõdet. Tuua KMHs välja arutluskäik, kuidas on jõutud vastavate kriteeriumideni, mille alusel hüdrogeoloogilise mudeli tulemused üle kantakse ning koondmõju teiste teguritega arvestatakse.

Seiskohad ja ettepanekud leitavad lingil:

Seisukohad VKG Kaevandused OÜ Oandu kaevanduse kaevandamisloa taotluse KMH programmile, 15.03.2020


Video coverage of a LIFE for MIRES project study trip to Estonia

In September 2019, LIFE for MIRES Czech Republic team visited two affiliated LIFE teams, engaged in mire restoration in Estonia and Latvia. There were lots of topics to be discussed and treated, like mutual presentation of restoration methods applied respectively and effective public communication. (more…)

New article about amphibians’ reproduction sites in protected sites and commercial forests

This summer an article about amphibians’ reproduction sites in protected sites and commercial forests, where the authors also used data from the Estonian Fund for Nature mire restoration project sites was published. The authors of the article “Amphibians in drained forest landscapes: Conservation opportunities for commercial forests and protected sites” are Liina Remm, Maarja Vaikre, Riinu Rannap and Marko Kohv.


Nitrogen-rich organic soils under warm well-drained conditions are global nitrous oxide emission hotspots

Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a powerful greenhouse gas and the main driver of stratospheric ozone depletion. Since soils are the largest source of N2O, predicting soil response to changes in climate or land use is central to understanding and managing N2O. Here we find that N2O flux can be predicted by models incorporating soil nitrate concentration (NO3−), water content and temperature using a global field survey of N2O emissions and potential driving factors across a wide range of organic soils. N2O emissions increase with NO3− and follow a bell-shaped distribution with water content. Combining the two functions explains 72% of N2O emission from all organic soils. Above 5 mg NO3−-N kg−1, either draining wet soils or irrigating well-drained soils increases N2O emission by orders of magnitude. As soil temperature together with NO3− explains 69% of N2O emission, tropical wetlands should be a priority for N2O management. Read more from Nature Communications!

One of the co-authors is mire restoration project manager Jüri-Ott Salm.

National Geographic writes about mire restoration in Estonia!

National Geographic: Tiny Country Cuts Carbon Emissions by Planting Bogs

What looks like a typical Northern European forest of scrubby Scotch pine, blueberry bushes, and ferns, about 15 miles inland from the Baltic Sea, turns out on closer inspection to be a peat bog—one that’s been drained and mined. A 10-foot-deep drainage ditch, now covered in foliage, still fills every time it rains. Furrows reveal where heavy equipment cut the peat into rectangular blocks, about the size of toaster ovens, which were dried and later burned in homes throughout the former Soviet Union.

Juri-Ott Salm wants to bring the wet bog back.

Read more from NG!

Gallery: field trip and conference in Latvia

A group of Estonians took part of the International Conference “Conservation and Management of Wetland Habitats” and field trips in Latvia that took place July 2017.

Here is a small gallery of the events by Marko Kohv :

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Find more pictures here:

National Geographic: Tiny Country Cuts Carbon Emissions by Planting Bogs

National Geographic gives a brief overview on how the bogs are restored in Estonia. Read more HERE!

Status of mires in European Red List of Habitats

Based on the first ever European Red List of Habitats review mires are amongst most threatened terrestrial and freshwater habitats.  The highest percentage of threatened types (categories Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable) was found amongst mires and bogs (85% in the EU28, 54% in the EU28+), followed by grasslands (53%, 49%), freshwater habitats (46%, 38%) and coastal habitats (45%, 43%). Just another reason to keep up restoring mires!