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Land management

Semi-natural communities

We have inherited the landscape Estonia has today from our ancestors who have designed their home places with love and care for centuries. By knowing and understanding the nature, by depending on it and taking it into account, it is possible to last for thousands of years. Estonians have built their home by living together with the nature. By getting what is necessary for living, they have designed environmental values, among which are wide-spread semi-natural communities – wooded meadows, alvars, coastal meadows, flooded meadows, grasslands on mineral soils, paludified meadows, wooded pastures and heathers.

Semi-natural communities are meadow habitats with natural biota which have been constantly mowed or herded. In addition to beautiful landscape, they are characterised by a great biodiversity of plants which creates conditions for the abundance of other species. So, in Estonia, semi-natural communities are an important habitat for approximately 700 plant species, and also to several bugs, bird and animals species.

Natural values of semi-natural communities are only preserved with the help of people. In order to preserve or increase biodiversity, the areas must be constantly maintained – mowed or herded. Without mowing or herding, the meadows will be covered in bushes, junipers and reed and the indigenous species composition is changed or decreased.

The sphere of responsibility of the Land Management Bureau includes organising the maintenance and restoration of these communities, planning maintenance works and entering into contract to restore the areas. The Environmental Board finances the restoration of semi-natural communities located at the protected areas internally under the regulation of nature conservation subsidy and the maintenance is funded by the Rural Development Plan.

A national objective is to ensure constant maintenance in the areas of semi-natural communities of 45,000 hectares. In 2017, conservation subsidies were applied for 30,000 hectares. More information on the protection and maintenance of semi-natural communities can be found in the leaflets of semi-natural communities (1.07 MB, PDF).


Photo: Kaidi Silm

Management plans of semi-natural communities

In cooperation with the Environmental Board, specialists and scientists, management plans of semi-natural communities have been developed. These include important information on the protection values of various habitat types and on maintenance and restoration methods.

The Management Plan for Coastal Meadows (281.14 KB, PDF)

The Management Plan for Alvars and Juniper Shrublands (2.28 MB, PDF)

The Management Plan for Floodplain Grasslands (971.22 KB, PDF)

The Management Plan for Wooded Meadows and Pastures (805.4 KB, PDF)

The Management Plan for Dry and Fresh and Paludified Grasslands (4.23 MB, PDF)

Ongoing projects in semi-natural communities

“LIFE to alvars” is a project of LIFE+ Nature.

LIFE to alvars project is funded by the LIFE+ Nature Fund and the Environmental Investment Centre, the purpose of which was the restoration of alvar pastures of 2,500 hectares in the islands of Saaremaa, Muhumaa, Hiiumaa and in Lääne and Pärnu Counties.

More information can be found at the homepage of the project.


Photo: Kaidi Silm

Completed projects in semi-natural communities

URBANCOWS – LIFE+ Nature project

Project URBANCOWS, which was carried out during the period of 2012–2016, was funded by the LIFE+ Nature Fund and the Environmental Investment Centre, the purpose of which was the restoration of coastal meadows of 250 hectares in the nature reserve of Pärnu coastal meadow. 

More information can be found at the homepage of the project.


Photo: Kaidi Silm


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