A draft bill approving a new nature reserve in Harku Municipality in Harju County has been sent for approval by Minister of Climate Kristen Michal (Reform). The proposal was first made 16 years ago but has been slowed down by arguments over limestone deposits.
The Sõrve Nature Reserve will cover more than 2,000 hectares. The local municipality first proposed the idea in 2006 and this is the second time the draft has been submitted.
Last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications approved the draft on the condition that three areas (purple in the map below) – totaling 177 hectares – were omitted from the protected zone so the resources beneath the ground could be extracted. Harku Quarry (red on the map) is located near by.
Val Rajasaar, Harku Council member, said these areas are in the middle of the proposed area and if they were included it would make the project pointless.
'Where you dig, you lose the whole natural ecosystem and landscape," he said.
Michal said extraction will not be allowed under the current government. "And it is reasonable to make this decision in order to end this kind of expectation and create a nature reserve so that the picture is clear," he said.
Harku Municipality said the nature reserve will help Estonia fulfill the European Union's biodiversity strategy of putting 30 percent of land under protection. Additionally, establishing a protected area for birds of prey would be good news.
"There are up to ten times as many cuckoos in the forests of Sõrve as in managed forests, and up to three times as many as in forests similar to Lahemaa National Park," said Rajasaar.
The minister hopes to receive feedback from ministries in the coming weeks. The government will then make a final decision.
Landowners whose property is slated to be part of the reserve will be eligible for compensation.
Editor: Mari Peegel, Helen Wright
Source: Aktuaalne kaamera