Vilsandi National Park
Vaika strict nature reserve, which is the oldest protection area in the Baltic countries, was formed on 14 August 1910. The protection area has been constantly extended during its long history and in 1993, it was reorganised into Vilsandi National Park.
Vilsandi National Park is situated on the western coast of Saaremaa in Kihelkonna and Lümanda municipalities. The area of the national park is 237.6 km2 – 162.3 km2 is covered by sea and 75.3 km2 by land. There are approximately 160 islands, islets and reefs in the national park.
The area is characterised by maritime climate, a large number of seabirds, the biggest grey seal colonies in Estonia and interesting seafloor fauna. 247 species of birds have been seen here, 114 of them also nest in the area. There are 520 species of tracheophytes, approximately 500 species of lichens and mosses, almost 80 species of fish.
The biggest bird islands of the nature protection area are situated to the west of Vilsandi – Alumine Vaika, Keskmine Vaika, Ülemine Vaika, Mustpank, Kullipank and Karirahu, where the Lower Silurian geological stratum with the coral reefs of the former tropical sea is revealed.
Functions of the national park:
- protect the coastal sea and manage the use of its ecosystems;
- protect species and their habitats considering both international and national agreements;
- restore and introduce diversity of life and landscapes, national marine heritage and cultural heritage;
- support, develop and preserve the traditional way of life of the coastal area of Western Estonia; and inform the visitors of the national park about natural and cultural values, and organise environmental education.
The national park is managed by the Environmental Board.
Visits are organised by the State Forest Management Centre (SFMC).
© Photo: Lighthouse of Vilsandi, K.Paomees