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Protected Areas

Protected areas are territories where human activities are restricted or prohibited at all.

They are formed in order to preserve natural riches of Estonia. The protected areas and objects in Estonia are:

  • national parks;
  • natural reserves;
  • landscape protection areas;
  • special conservation areas;
  • species protection sites;
  • parks and woodlands;
  • protected individual nature objects;
  • protected areas with old protection regulation;
  • protected areas at municipal level.

Information on larger protected areas can be found on the protected areas website https://www.kaitsealad.ee/eng.

By visiting the Land Board webpage on https://www.maaamet.ee/en,  proceeding > land board geoportal > restriction application, you can visualize the boundaries of the protected areas in Estonia.

Further information can be found at http://www.eelis.ee/default.aspx?state=1;-164545161;est;eelisand;;&lang=eng.

Responsibility and duties in organizing the protection of Estonian protected areas are divided between several state authorities:

Environmental Board:

  • is the governing body of areas under national level of protection;
  • plans and manages the creation of protected areas;
  • prepares the protection management plans to plan the conservational work (link, if translated)
  • issues the necessary operating permits within the protected areas, read more in the section on operating permits;
  • coordinates applications for construction activities within the protected areas;
  • issues any notifications concerning the conservation area;
  • decides upon the reduction of the construction exclusion zone in the protected area;
  • processes any applications for the sale of the protected land to the state.

The Environmental Inspectorate organizes supervision in protected areas. In case you notice violations in protected areas or animals in need of assistance, report it to the Environmental Information telephone on 1313.

The Environmental Agency organizes nature and environmental monitoring, analyzes and maintains data. Read the latest information on nature conservation assessments from the EELIS newsletter at EELIS infopage:  http://infoleht.keskkonnainfo.ee/default.aspx?state=1;-164545161;est;eelisand;;&lang=eng.

The State Forest Management Center (SFMC) organizes nature conservation works in the protected areas and organizes visits. Read more about the possibilities of visiting of the areas on the webpage “Together with Nature“: https://www.loodusegakoos.ee/en.

The Ministry of the Environment is subordinate to all state authorities listed above. The Ministry plans and directs the Estonian environmental policy. Read more about the main directions of Estonian nature conservation policy on: https://www.envir.ee/en/nature-conservation.

Kullamäe conservation area
Kullamäe conservation area. Photo: Meelis Suurkask
 

 

Permit to use a vehicle

Permit to use a vehicle

A natural or legal person must apply for a permit to be allowed by the Environmental Board to use a vehicle to get about on a protected nature site.

Pursuant to the Nature Conservation Act, it may be permitted to use a vehicle, off-road vehicle or floating craft to move about in a special management zone with protection rules. The applicant must read the relevant protection rules to determine whether the Environmental Board may consider issuing a permit to use a vehicle, the use of a vehicle is completely prohibited, or it is permitted without the permission of the Environmental Board.

The Environmental Board will not approve an activity if it may interfere with the achievement of the conservation goals set in the conservation area or otherwise adversely affect the general condition of the area.

Submission of an application to use a vehicle
A reasoned request must be submitted to the Environmental Board providing at least the following information:
• applicant’s name, personal identification code
• contact information (telephone, e-mail, address)
• information about the area - county, rural municipality, name of the protected nature site and protected zone or body of water, and the name of the place to be visited, as precisely as possible
• time of the visit
• purpose of the visit, description of intended activities and reasons for undertaking them
• type of vehicle and registration number and in the case of a boat, the capacity of its motor
• number of passengers and person responsible for the group
• if possible, a sketch of the region of movement

The Environmental Board will review a submitted application within a month at the latest. If the review should require more time, the Environmental Board will give notice and set a new deadline.

Natural resource utilization specialists at the Environmental Board handle vehicle use permits. The application may be submitted on paper or digitally, by email, to the local Environmental Board office.
 

Permit to organise a public event

Permit to organise a public event

A natural or legal person or local government must apply for a permit to obtain the consent of the Environmental Board to organise a public event on a protected nature site.

Pursuant to the Nature Conservation Act, it may be permitted to organise a public event in a special management zone with protection rules. The applicant must read the relevant protection rules to determine whether the Environmental Board may consider issuing a permit to organise a public event, organising a public event is completely prohibited, or it is permitted without the permission of the Environmental Board.

The Environmental Board will not approve an activity if it may interfere with the achievement of the conservation goals set in the conservation area or otherwise adversely affect the general condition of the area.

Submission of an application for a permit to organise a public event
A reasoned request must be presented to the Environmental Board providing at least the following information:
• the name of the applicant (responsible person, organiser), his or her personal identification code/organisation, registry code
• contact information (telephone, e-mail, address)
• information about the area - county, rural municipality, name of the protected nature site and protected zone, and the name of the place to be visited, as precisely as possible
• the time of the event and the time necessary to prepare for it
• number of participants
• the goal of the event, a description of activities (including inventory, equipment to be installed, a scheme of the event, including whether or not there will be fireworks, an open fire and/or sound equipment, and how transport has been organised) and the reason

The Environmental Board will review a submitted application within a month at the latest. If the review should require more time, the Environmental Board will give notice and set a new deadline.

Natural resource utilization specialists at the Environmental Board handle public event permits. The application may be submitted on paper or digitally, by email, to the local Environmental Board office.
 

Permission to build a campfire or camp

Permission to build a campfire or camp

In protected areas and permanent habitats and on solitary protected sites, it is permitted to camp or build a campfire only in those places intended for this and accordingly designated by the manager of the protected area. Building a campfire or camping in a conservation area requires only the consent of the landowner.

To camp or build a campfire outside of the abovementioned areas, both natural and legal persons need to apply for a permit. In accordance with the Nature Conservation Act, it may be permitted to camp or build a campfire in limited management zones and special management zones with protection rules. The applicant must read the relevant protection rules to determine whether the Environmental Board may consider granting permission, camping or building a campfire is completely prohibited, or they are permitted without the permission of the Environmental Board.

The Environmental Board will not approve an activity if it may interfere with the achievement of the conservation goals set in the conservation area or otherwise adversely affect the general condition of the area.

Submitting an application for a permit to camp or build a campfire
A reasoned request must be presented to the Environmental Board providing at least the following information:
• applicant’s name, personal identification code
• contact information (telephone, e-mail, address)
• county, rural municipality, name of the protected nature site and protected zone, and the name of the place to be visited, as precisely as possible
• time of the activity
• purpose of the activities, their description, and reasons for undertaking them

The Environmental Board will review a submitted application within a month at the latest. If the review should require more time, the Environmental Board will give notice and set a new deadline.

Natural resource utilization specialists at the Environmental Board deal with permits to camp or build a campfire.

The application may be submitted to the Environmental Board on paper or digitally. Documents may be submitted in person at the local Environmental Board office or if in digital form, emailed.

Camping or building a campfire also requires the consent of the landowner.
 

Permit to collect forest produce

Permit to collect forest produce

A natural or legal person must apply for a permit to be allowed by the Environmental Board to gather berries, mushrooms, and other forest produce.

Pursuant to the Nature Conservation Act, it may be permitted to gather berries, mushrooms, and other forest produce in a management zone with protection rules. The applicant must read the relevant protection rules to determine whether the Environmental Board may consider granting permission to gather forest produce, gathering forest produce is completely prohibited, or gathering forest produce is permitted without the permission of the Environmental Board.

The Environmental Board will not approve an activity if it may interfere with the achievement of the conservation goals set in the protected area or otherwise adversely affect the general condition of the area.

Submission of an application to gather forest produce
A reasoned request must be presented to the Environmental Board providing at least the following information:
• the applicant’s name, personal identification code/organisation name, registry code
• contact information (telephone, e-mail, address)
• information about the area to be visited - county, rural municipality, name of the protected nature site and protected zone, and the name of the place (area) to be visited, as precisely as possible
• time of the activity
• purpose of the activity, its description, and reasons for undertaking it
• number of people taking part in the activity

The Environmental Board will review a submitted application within a month at the latest. If the review should require more time, the Environmental Board will give notice and set a new deadline.

Natural resource utilization specialists at the Environmental Board handle permits. The application may be submitted on paper or digitally, by email, to the local Environmental Board office.

 

Permit to collect reed or brown algae

Permit to collect reed or brown algae

A natural or legal person must apply for a permit to be allowed by the Environmental Board to gather reed or brown algae at a protected nature site.

Pursuant to the Nature Conservation Act, it may be permitted to gather reed or brown algae in a management zone with protection rules. The applicant must read the relevant protection rules to determine whether the Environmental Board may consider granting permission to gather reed or brown algae, or completely prohibit it, or gathering reed or brown algae is permitted without the permission of the Environmental Board. The Environmental Board will not approve an activity if it may interfere with the achievement of the conservation goals set in the protected area or otherwise adversely affect the general condition of the area.

Submission of an application to gather reed or brown algae
A reasoned request and the consent of the possessor of the property must be submitted to the Environmental Board. The application must contain at least the following information:
• the applicant’s name, personal identification code/organisation name, registry code
• contact information (telephone, e-mail, address)
• county, rural municipality, name of the protected nature site and protected zone, and the location of the activity, as precisely as possible
• a sketch of the area covered by the activity
• time of the activity
• purpose of the activity, its description, and reasons for undertaking it
• the expected amount of reed or brown algae to be collected

The Environmental Board will review a submitted application within a month at the latest. If the review should require more time, the Environmental Board will give notice and set a new deadline.

Natural resource utilization specialists at the Environmental Board handle permits. The application may be submitted on paper or digitally, by email, to the local Environmental Board office.

 

The acquisition of property

The acquisition of property containing a protected nature site

The acquisition by the state of property containing a protected nature site is regulated by the Nature Conservation Act § 20 and regulation no 242, 8 July 2004, of the Government of the Republic.

A closer look at the acquisition of land
Pursuant to § 6 of the abovementioned regulation, the owner of the property may make an acquisition proposal to the Ministry of the Environment through the Environmental Board. The proposal should include the following information:
1. contact details of the person submitting the proposal (including address, contact numbers);
2. the area of the property being offered to the state, the cadastral codes(s), and the register part number in the land register;
3. third-part rights attached to the property being offered to the state but not entered in the land register, including a spouse’s right to communal property and attached land use rights;
4. optionally, a price offer;
5. if the property being offered to the state is held in common ownership, though the proposal has not been made jointly with all co-owners, an agreement between the co-owners, as provided for by § 74(1) of the «Law of Property Act», should be attached to the proposal.

Depending on the manner of acquisition, an order for the return of unlawfully expropriated property, a succession certificate, a marriage certificate, or a copy the document establishing one of the kinship relations described in § 20(11)(3) of the Nature Conservation Act should be attached to the proposal. These documents do not need to be submitted if the property was placed under protection after its acquisition or protection rules for the property became more stringent after its acquisition.

The acquisition process requires the authorization letter of the person representing the owner of the property to be notarized, in accordance with § 118(3) of the General part of the Civil Code Act and § 64 1 and § 120 of the Law of Property Act.
 


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