The Tallinn City Government is preparing to initiate the establishment of the Astangu-Mäeküla protected area in the Haabersti district. A public presentation of the concept of the conservation area will be held on Tuesday 10 May at 17.30 at the Astangu Vocational Rehabilitation Centre at Astangu 27, where residents are invited to participate and express their ideas.
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Vladimir Svet explained that the
discussion will provide an overview of the location and natural
values of the future protected area, as well as the process of
its designation. "The local conservation area is planned to be
formed on an area of more than 162 hectares, which, according
to various wildlife surveys, is one of the most biodiverse
areas in Tallinn," said Svet. "According to the expert
assessment, this is a unique core area of natural assets of
vital importance to the city, with value for recreation and
outdoor sports as well as for foraging and nature education.
Add to this the cultural and historical value of the many
heritage sites and there is no reason to doubt that the
Astangu-Mäeküla area deserves to be protected and preserved in
its present form."
According to Oleg Siljanov, Head of the Haabersti
district, an expert study on the justification of the protected
area has been commissioned, which concluded that the area is a
valuable natural community at the municipal level. "This means
that the Astangu-Mäeküla area contains combinations of natural
species and habitats that are either not found elsewhere in the
city or are very rare, and whose preservation would not be
possible without protection," he explained.
Siljanov added that the expertise also identified unique and
valuable natural communities with habitats and breeding sites
of protected and rare species within Tallinn. "The area is the
most important bat roosting site in Estonia and one of the most
important bat hibernation sites. In addition, it is the richest
and best-preserved habitat for amphibians, reptiles, bumblebees
and butterflies in the city, and the largest and most diverse
habitat for breeding birds and wild animals. Over 20 hectares
are home to one of the city's most extensive alvar communities,
alder bogs and groves, as well as several endangered plant
species. So there is every justification for protecting the
area," said Siljanov.
The next step is to initiate the procedure for the local
protection of the Astangu-Mäeküla area by means of a regulation
of the city, followed by a public display and a public
consultation. The Tallinn City Council needs to adopt the
decision on the local protection of the site.
The proposal to establish a national nature reserve in the area
was made by the Estonian Environmental Board in 2010. Eight
years later, the Ministry of the Environment and the
Environmental Board decided to abandon the plan to establish a
nature reserve and to create a species protection site on the
small area to protect species of protection categories I and
II. The decision was implemented in June 2021, but only the
category II bat hibernation sites and three category I and II
plant species were protected. In March 2021, a proposal for the
establishment of the Astangu-Mäeküla local protection area,
signed by 45 citizens, was submitted to Tallinn City
Government. From May to October 2021, an expert assessment of
the justification of the proposal was carried out on behalf of
the Tallinn Urban Environment and Public Works Department.
So far, three local protected areas have been established in
Tallinn: Pääsküla bog (2013), Merimetsa green area (2017) and
Harku forest (2021). There are also a number of protected
sites in the city. National and local protected areas cover
almost one fifth of Tallinn's area. NATURA 2000 sites cover
7.2% of Tallinn's land area.
In Estonia, 64 species belonging to protection category I
are rare and endangered with extinction due to human activities
and occur in a small number of habitats (see
list of species in protection categories I and II). A
species protection site is a protected area designated to
protect the habitats and breeding sites of endangered species,
with the optimum size of the area subject to the restrictions
necessary for the conservation of the species.