European nature conservation in its traditional meaning was born at the beginning of 20th century, when an obligation to preserve and keep for future generations rare species and remarkable natural features – such as a jet, a tree growing in a sacred grove, an erratic boulder or a white-tailed eagle – was acknowledged. One started to place under protection impressive natural memorials and to establish the first nature conservation area.
On 14th August 1910, the Riga Association of Naturalists rented Vaika bird islands under the leadership of Artur Toom, Vilsandi lighthouse keeper and a big fan of birds, in order to ensure safe nesting opportunities for local birds and to prevent the collection of eggs. Thus the first nature conservation area in the Baltics was born. Although the nature conservation activities were carried out in Estonia even before the establishment of Vaika nature conservation area, Estonian nature conservation in its modern sense is considered to be born on 14th August 1910. Therefore, the next year will mark the 100th anniversary of Estonian nature conservation.In 2010, Estonian nature conservation will celebrate its 100th anniversary. Estonian nature conservation is considered to be born on 14th August 1910, when Vaika bird protection area was established under the leadership of Artur Toom.
As of 1941, there were already 549 objects under nature protection in Estonia, including 238 erratic boulders, 236 trees, 47 areas, 26 plant species and 2 springs. In comparison: as of the beginning of this year, there are 3442 objects under nature protection in Estonia, including 278 nature conservation and landscape protection areas.
Organisation of our nature conservation has above all been characterized by sustainability, even in uncertain times. It means that most of the nature conservation areas that were taken under protection during the period of the first Estonian Republic, have been taken under protection by now as well. For example, Vaika islands are located within the boundaries of Vilsandi National Park.
Eventful anniversary year
In order to celebrate the anniversary year of nature conservation, several events will be organised in 2010 aiming to introduce the history of Estonian nature conservation and also to appreciate and give comprehensive overview of current nature conservation activities. There will be held two conferences – in May, on the month of nature conservation, a 3-day scientific conference in Tallinn, which main topic is "New directions in nature conservation", and in August, a retrospective conference dedicated to the history of nature conservation that will take place on the island of Saaremaa.
Homepage Conference "Nature Conservation beyond 2010" : http://www.ncbeyond2010.eu/
The following events will also take place: restoration of the statute of nature conservation token; commemoration of famous naturalists in cooperation with the Estonian Society for Nature Conservation and Tallinn Society for Nature Conservation; preparation of publications related to nature conservation, including a new nature conservation brochure for schools; publication of a special issue of Eesti Loodus (Estonian Nature) magazine dedicated to the anniversary year and many other things.
In the course of a whole year, especially in May which is the month of nature conservation, the employees of nature conservation of the Environmental Board will organise relevant excursions, competitions, trainings and workshops. A quiz in Eesti Loodus magazine has already begun and it is possible to make this quiz on the websites of the Environmental Board and the Ministry of the Environment. A website attached to the website of the Environmental Board, which is dedicated to the anniversary year of the nature conservation and will provide more detailed information about the events of the next year related to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the nature conservation, will be completed by the end of December.
Our biological diversity is among the largest in the world
Diversity of Estonian flora and fauna – our biological diversity, in comparison with the areas of the same size located north of 57 degrees north latitude, is one of the largest in the world. Nowadays, the area of land covered by different nature conservation areas constitutes 17,9 percent, there are more than a thousand such areas in Estonia. For a long time, nature conservation has not only aroused the interest of a few scientists and officials, it is also a significant social phenomenon. So the main purpose of the next anniversary year is to strengthen and preserve the ties between human beings and nature. There is so much to discover and it is all right here.
Estonian nature conservation celebrates its 100th anniversary