The Ministry of the Environment will not place Tartu's Sanatooriumi Park under conservation protection, citing a report from the Estonian Environmental Board (Keskkonnaamet), which recommends the park be protected by Tartu Municipality. The municipality however, is no longer considering placing the park under conservation protection either.
Tartu's Sanatooriumi Park could be placed under conservation protection by either the Estonian Ministry of the Environment or Tartu City government.
An expert report published by the Estonian Environmental Board (Keskkonnaamet) at the end of November, noted, that Tartu's Sanatooriumi Park does not contain any category one or two rare wildlife species, nor was there any other reason for it to be placed under state conservation protection.
However, as Environmental Board head Rainer Vakra explained at the time, the park is considered to be site of local importance. It was therefore left to Minister of the Environment Madis Kallas (Reform) to decide whether or not the park would be placed under state conservation protection. According to Kallas, there is no benefit in disputing the Environmental Board's expertise.
"If we are going to put something under protection, [the decision] has to be based on some form of expertise, which the Environmental Board commissioned and assessed. I am also basing my assessment on this," said Kallas.
"Of course, we hope that the City of Tartu will take [the park] under local protection and that the green area will be preserved as it is now, then things will be done fairly and in the correct manner," the minister added.
Explaining why the state will not place the park under its own protection, Kallas said, that it was important to take into account potential problems related to other sites in the future.
"We have to consider, that if we make decisions somewhere based on values other than extremely high environmental risks or there being a large number of endangered species in an area, then we could get burned very painfully later on," said Kallas, emphasizing that the case could later be used as a precedent to overrule expert views in other cases.
The municipality has previously said that the park should be considered for local conservation protection.
However, according to Tartu Deputy Mayor Raimond Tamm, the city government has now also decided that such a move would not be justified.
"It is important to note that the territory of the Sanatooriumi Park has also been designated as a green area in our new [city] master plan. This will ensure the preservation of the park," said Tamm.
"The detailed plan for the Raja 31a site, which gives the right to build some small houses on the plot of land belonging to Aino and Oskar Kallas, has caused controversy. However, the city's various planning documents also require the preservation of valuable tall greenery (including trees) on this plot. In our view, this protects the park area," the deputy mayor said.
Editor: Michael Cole