Alutaguse established as Estonia's sixth national park ({{commentsTotal}})

Alutaguse is located in Northeastern Estonia.
Alutaguse is located in Northeastern Estonia. Source: Alutaguse.ee

Spanning more than 43,000 hectares in Northeastern Estonia, Alutaguse National Park was officially established on Saturday.

An amendment to the Nature Conservation Act stepped into effect on Saturday establishing Estonia's sixth national park, which is aimed at protecting the swamps, forest and coastal landscapes as well as the traditional culture of Northeastern Estonia, spokespeople for the Ministry of the Environment said.

An amendment to the Nature Conservation Act stepped into effect on Saturday establishing Estonia's sixth national park, which is aimed at protecting the swamps, forest and coastal landscapes as well as the traditional culture of Northeastern Estonia, spokespeople for the Ministry of the Environment said.

"The first time the establishment of a national park at Alutaguse was considered was one hundred years ago, at the beginning of the 1920s, when Estonian botanist and conservationist Gustav Vilbaste had the idea of establishing Estonia's first national park in the Alutaguse area," said Minister of the Environment Siim Kiisler (Pro Patria). "Unfortunately, they didn't succeed at the time. That Alutaguse National Park became a reality now, on the 100th anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, is a beautiful gift not only to Ida-Viru County but to all of Estonia."

The Alutaguse region is the biggest area of coniferous forests and swamps in Estonia. Also to fall within the limits of the newly established national park are Estonia's longest sand beach, the unique Smolnitsa sand dune area on the north shore of Lake Peipus, the Narva River, including old meanders and periodically flooding grasslands at Struuga, an area with the country's highest concentration of lakes in Kurtna, Estonia's only continental dunes at Agusalu, one of Northern Europe's biggest wetlands in Puhatu, and one of Estonia's most exemplary broadleaf forest at Poruni.

Alutaguse is an important habitat for many species, the ministry noted. According to Gunnar Sein, a researcher of golden eagles, Alutaguse is one part of Estonia where the golden eagle species has lived continuously. For the protection thereof, the first wetland protection area was established 80 years ago at Ratva bog, which now falls under the territory of the new national park. Currently, golden eagles are once again nesting in most of the country's wetlands, including at Alutaguse National Park.

Ministry of the Environment adviser Hanno Zingel said that some 90% o Estonia's some 50 remaining willow grouses nest in the territory of the new national park, and the hope is that the establishment thereof will save the species from extinction in Estonia and help it follow in the footsteps of the country's golden eagles.

Together with Alutaguse, Estonia now boasts a total of six national parks, the first of which, Lahemaa, was established in 1971. Prior to Saturday, Matsalu was the latest national park to be established, in 2004.

The national park totals 43,568 hectares in size, all of which was under protection already prior to the establishment of the new park. 

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Editor: Aili Vahtla



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