Estonian nature offers an opportunity to take part in an ancient landscape – an environment akin to how Western Europe might have appeared in the early Middle Ages. Half of the country is covered in forest. Wolves, bears, and lynx roam freely. The last glacier receded from Estonia 11,000 years ago, and traces of the Ice Age still stand out clearly.
As the oldest traces of human settlement in the region also date back to 11,000 years ago, the possibility that man was one of the very first species to arrive – even before soil and plants, surviving by shing or hunting seals – cannot be ruled out. Even today, man doesn’t solely play a negative role in Estonian nature. Some of the most critical biomes include semi-natural primeval landscapes, a range of meadows, and pastures. Coastal meadows are prized nesting and resting sites for flocks of migratory birds.
Half of the county’s 45,000 km2 territory is made up of shrubs and forests: not as a homogenous mass draped across remote mountains, but as woods interspersed with elds and homesteads. A large share of the least disturbed wilderness in the country is in Transitional Estonia, a chain of mires, forests and woodland stretching from the northern coast to the southwestern corner.
Estonia’s bogs are a sanctuary for animals, plants, and entire ecosystems. Not long ago, the entire country constituted a huge archipelago of swamps. Rare lush mixed forests have survived on bog islands, where old lindens and oaks grow side-by-side with chestnut trees. An array of extensive nature reserves has been established to protect particular species of ora and fauna
A great part of Estonian intellectual life (in addition to physical work) revolves around the country’s nature.
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