Almost a quarter of Estonia’s area is under protection

The Estonian Environment Agency’s annual review of nature conservation reveals that 19.6 per cent of Estonia’s mainland is protected and the protected area makes up 23 per cent of the country’s total area inclusive of territorial sea.

In total, the total nature conservation area totaled 1,617,438 hectares (four million acres) last year and the protected area increased by 2,680 hectares (6,622 acres) compared with 2021.

The share of protected area is the largest in Lääne County, where it is 28.9 per cent, and the smallest in Põlva County, where it is 8.4 per cent.

As of the end of 2022, there were 4,331 protected natural objects in Estonia, 212 more than a year earlier.

Over a hundred new species protection sites

The number of species protection sites increased the most in 2022, with 118 new species protection sites added. The area of species protection sites totaled 94,983 hectares (234,708 acres) as of the end of 2022, with 855 hectares (2,113 acres) added year-on-year.

Marimetsa bog hiking trail in Lääne County, Estonia. Photo by Julia Kivela.

In terms of area, protected areas saw the biggest change – the area of protected areas increased by 1,078 hectares (2,664 acres) year-on-year, reaching 800,539 hectares (two million acres). 

The protection rules and type of several protected areas were changed and four new nature conservation areas were also formed: Kirmsi, Leluselja, Nepstemurru and Lepna oak forest. Excluded from protection were 18 Rapla County parks and forest stands and the Matsi-Kärneri oak forest, a protected area without renewed protection rules.

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