Types of protected areas

  • National parks are designated by law and consist of ecosystems, landscapes and traditional cultural heritage of particular national value. There are 6 national parks in Estonia: Lahemaa, Karula, Soomaa, Vilsandi, Matsalu and Alutaguse.
  • Nature reserves are created primarily for the conservation of habitats and habitats of rare and endangered species.
  • Landscape protection areas (nature parks) are created for the protection of natural or heritage cultural landscapes and landscape elements. Specific types of landscape protection areas are protected parks, arboretums and stands.

Protected areas are divided into zones

The zones and their protection procedures are designated in the conservation rules of the protected area on the basis of the requirements for the conservation of values ​​to be protected.

  • Strict nature reserves are areas with the most stringent protection procedures, where people's stay is prohibited throughout the year. Such zones are created for scientific purposes to explain the natural processes of communities/ecosystems in areas where there is virtually no direct human impact.
  • Conservation zones are divided into two parts:
    • a natural part of a conservation zone protect the natural development of natural processes, including, for example, bogs and natural forests; 
    • part of the conservation zone that is being maintained - human assistance is often needed to preserve natural values, for example, in maintaining and mowing wooded grasslands, grazing in coastal  pastureland, etc., for the preservation of natural values. 

Movement in conservation zones may be restricted, for example, during breeding of birds. 

  • Limited management zones are the most vulnerable areas of protection where stricter restrictions are not necessary for the preservation of nature values. The main requirement is the preservation and balanced management of the landscape. Limited management zones also serve as a connection for linking zones with stricter protection into a common protected area.

Silt Soomaal

Photo by Toomas Kalda