I One visit was organised to restoration sites of LIFE funded project Boreal Peatland LIFE – Restoring boreal peatlands in Natura 2000 areas, NAT/FIN/000596, in Finland, in September 2016. This was the largest LIFE Nature project in Finland and there has been a lot of information exchange in regard of the peatland issues related especially to this project. The project was led by the Natural Heritage Services of Metsähallitus and aimed at restoring nearly 4 300 hectares of various kinds of peatlands. In the course of the project, a handbook Ecological restoration in drained peatlands – best practises from Finland, was published.. Guidelines from this book were also used in elaboration LIFE Mires Estonia application. Therefore the project could have great implications towards the peatlands restoration work in Estonia and the site visits could give valuable information before completion of restoration plans in Estonia.
II Another visit was done to the restoration sites of LIFE funded project Life to ad(d)mire – Restoring drained and overgrowing wetlands, NAT/S/000268, in Sweden, in October 2016. The project Life to ad(d)mire aimed to halt the decrease of targeted habitats and species at 35 Natura 2000 sites through hydrological restoration and vegetation measures. Therefore it shared the same goals as LIFE Mires Estonia as well as is similar compared to areal coverage as well as targeted habitats – Life to ad(d)mire area encompassed 40 430 ha of Natura 2000 areas (35 Natura 2000 sites) and the project targeted directly 3852 ha. Project was coordinated by Länsstyrelsen Jämtlands Län (Regional authority).
III In addition to the present project, ELF is involved in another project LIFE_Wetlands – Conservation and Management of Priority Wetland Habitats in Latvia, NAT/LV/000578, coordinated by the University of Latvia. In the course of the project, a study tour to Latvian restoration sites is planned. It is expected to take place in 2017 and provides additional opportunity to learn from Latvian experience regarding Active bog habitats restoration.
To get to know the results of the mire restoration and management carried out in the other EU countries it is planned to participate in seminars and conferences. In total, from 2015 to 2020 it is planned to participate in 4 seminars/conferences outside those organised within the project to give presentations about the project results. During these meetings it will be possible to get to know the recent experience about the restoration as well to demonstrate the project results to the wider international audience as by paper presentations and posters as well as to distribute the project booklets and other informative materials about the project sites and activities.
Events where project experts participated: 3.-5. Nov 2015 – „LIFE to Ad(d)mire“ final seminar in Sweden, poster presentation by M.Kohv; 8.-10. Apr 2016 – training on cultural heritage in Lahemaa NP (Estonia) by P-Pungas-Kohv, no presentation; 28.-29. June 2016 „Small Unmanned Aerial Systems for Environmental Research“ and visit to Moor LIFE 2020, UK, presemtaton by M.Kohv: 9.-11. June 2016 “Text as a clue on Landscape” (Estonia), presentation by P. Pungas-Kohv; 5.-9. Sept 2016 PECSRL (Austria), presentation by P. Pungas-Kohv; 4.-6. Oct 2016 Cumbria Bog LIFE, UK), presentations by P. Pungas-Kohv and M. Kohv.
Every second year an international Wetland day (2nd of February) has been celebrated in Estonia with special conference, where all organizations, related with theme on wetlands, participate. The next conferences organised by ELF together with partners take place in 2016, 2018 and 2020. In 2016 International Bog Day was celebrated in the course of the project – a field conference was dedicated to archaeological survey in mires in Laukasoo project area.
Besides exchanging information about wetland related activities and projects, these meetings help to unify the wetland community in general. In addition, these activities help to influence general understanding and respectful perception regarding conservation of mires. Within these two events main topics are restoration of mires, major developments influencing mires (e.g. impact from oil shale mining in Estonia, development of infrastructure projects, peat mining) and nature education. The first is especially important as Estonia has a target to restore nearly 12 000 ha of mire habitats by 2020, therefore these events provide possibility to discuss the status of achievement, challenges, monitoring and exchange experiences etc.
Also, it is expected that 16th International Peat Congress takes place in Tallinn, Estonia, June 2020, organised by International Peat Society (IPS). Participation and presentations at the conference provide excellent opportunity to introduce the final results of the LIFE Mire Estonia.
Opening events will be organized in all restoration sites in order to introduce restoration activities for local communities, people interested in mire restoration and conservation, stakeholders and others interested. Events will be organised out in nature and include visits to actual restoration sites. Events are planned as 1-day field excursions where project experts introduce their work as well as project manager provides overall information about the project.
Final event of the project will be held in summer 2020 where all the main activities and the results will be presented, discussed etc.
Reconstruction of old, currently non-functional, nature trail is planned in Tudusoo project area. The renewed LIFE-trail (0.7 km) leads visitors into the mire along the restored area. LIFE-trail will be a wheelchair compatible nature trail, allowing much needed access to nature for people with disabilities. Renewal of the information boards in another nature trail (Seljamäe nature trail) in Tudusoo project area is also planned. The action will be implemented in cooperation between ELF and Estonian Forest Management Centre, who is responsible for visitor’s management in nature conservation areas. Also 6 general information boards about LIFE-project will be produced – 1 to every restoration area.
Archaeological/heritage information (gathered in project actions A4 and E3) will form important part of the information boards besides usual ecological viewpoint. Recent scientific studies verify that this approach helps to support study-process as visitors connect more readily with stories from previous generations compared to relatively abstract ecological concepts. Ecological concepts will be relied to visitor through cultural heritage (“old stories”) wherever possible. Main attention will be paid to the more common plant species, animals, insects etc. that can be noticed in mire. More rare species can be studied via mobile phones or using other smart-technology.
The learning-program together with worksheet for schools will be compiled during the project action E3. This program will use or at least point-to LIFE-trail and other relevant materials generated during the project. Extra attention will be paid to the reconstruction of the mires.
This action includes preparation of study materials, articles for Estonian nature journals, fairy-tale book, study videos, and implementation of study events.
Before compiling study materials for open access at first there will be a need to collect meta-data. The result of collected data will be used also for compiling additional texts for study trail; for study-program that will be used in study trail (3 levels of difficulties); for articles prepared in Wikipedia that will describe project areas; for fairy-tale book and articles meant for wider public use. These materials will be mainly in Estonian but study-program for LIFE-trail and worksheet will be made in 3 languages: English, Russian and Estonian.
Methods for data collection are:
a) Collecting descriptions from all case study areas as from the natural, cultural, folkloristic or archaeological point of view;
b) Representation analysis from Estonian literature and historical databases about mires, especially about restoration areas. There is a critical need for that as mires are usually described via natural point of view, but literature provides remarkable additional value for perception of Estonian mires. The data base is in Estonian and could be found at project web-site: https://soo.elfond.ee/projektist/tegevused/sood-eesti-kultuuriloos/ (in Estonian).
c) Collecting “living cultural heritage” from LIFE-project restoration areas – making interviews with people living next to these areas. Collected material will be partly presented as audio-files (in acceptance of interviewees).
d) Estonian National Museum has collected data from winter roads over the mires, but the results are not analysed yet (the work was done in 1980s). As there are several clear marks from winter roads in LIFE project case-study areas, it could be combined with other information regarding the project sites.
As there is a wish to introduce LIFE-project areas, “wild” hiking trips will be organized. For that there is a need to work out extra program for every area. During the trips project activities will be introduced as well as overview about mire habitats will be explained.
In order to introduce LIFE project activities to school children, special study-days will be organized to local schools (in total 64 study days). As there is a remarkable lack of activities to people of special needs, extra 3 study-days will be organized to them as well. Study-day will consist of introducing the study-trail with activities provided on boards next to LIFE trail. For every level of difficulties will be compiled instructions for using study-trail and worksheet. Additional equipment that will be used for working out the study-materials in nowadays is a set of smart-equipment (smart-phone, tablet, laptop).
Fairy-tale book. Two small ogres, Kalli and Modris, are travelling in Estonian mires, talking with each other old stories (references to archives will be added). Educational and mire protective talks between ogres are created as story lines. There is added map, some small quizzes. The fairy-tale book is meant as a guide book for teachers as well as for travel with families. As the fairy-tale book that is already prepared, was concentrated on the mires situating in the Southern side of Estonia, the 2nd part would concentrate on Northern-side and to the Middle of Estonia.