The Ministry of the Environment is literally the most environmental ministry in Estonia. The Constitution of the Republic of Estonia states that the natural wealth and resources of Estonia are national riches which shall be used economically. The function of the Ministry of the Environment is to establish prerequisites and conditions, which ensure a natural environment rich in species and a clean living environment both for our generation and the future generations as well as guarantee economical use of natural resources.
Hence, the activities of the Ministry of the Environment focus on the utilisation of natural resources and environmental protection, balanced development of economic and social spheres, ensuring a well-functioning system necessary for the achievement thereof as well as the purposeful and well-considered use of resources allocated to environmental protection.
The area of government of the Ministry of the Environment includes:
As of 6 April 2011, The Minister of the Environment is headed by Minister Keit Pentus.
As of 21 June 2008, the Secretary General of the Ministry is Rita Annus.
The Ministry of the Environment is present in every part of Estonia. The Environmental Board, The Land Board, the Environmental Inspectorate, the Centre of Forest Protection and Silviculture, the Estonian Environment Information Centre, the Estonian Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, the Estonian Radiation Protection Centre, the State Forest Management Centre, the Geological Survey of Estonia, the Estonian Map Centre, the Estonian Environmental Research Centre, Tartu Environmental Research, Põlula Fish Farm, the Estonian Museum of Natural History, national parks, ecological reserves and landscape conservation areas all belong to the Ministry’s area of government.
The Ministry of the Environment is a relatively young institution, established on 21 December 1989. Yet, its roots date back to the year 1935 when the National Parks Administration was founded in the first Estonian Republic. The primary function of the institution was to administer three parks: Kadriorg with the permanent residence of the President; Oru Park with the summer residence of the President and Keila-Joa, which was the location of the residence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In December 1935 an important event in nature protection in Estonia occurred as the Nature Conservation Act entered into force. This can be considered the basis of national nature conservation in Estonia. The management of nature conservation was taken over by the National Parks Administration, which initially only led the administration of the three parks mentioned above. Three years later, in 1938, the Administration was renamed into the Institute of Nature Protection and Tourism, which better corresponded with its activities.
In 1957, the Estonian SSR Council of Ministers established the Nature Protection Administration. In the same year, the new Nature Conservation Act was adopted, giving the right to place threatened species under protection and to prescribe criminal liability for the violation of nature protection requirements. Five years later, the main administration was established, which lay a foundation for a common system of forest management and nature protection. In 1966, as a result of reorganisation, the latter was renamed into the Ministry of Forestry and Nature Conservation. The Ministry operated for more than 20 years. In 1988, the Estonian Nature Protection and Forest Management Committee was established, later used as a basis for the foundation of the Ministry of the Environment.
The World Tree (ARBOR MUNDI) grows in the centre of the Earth. Below and between the roots of the tree lies the underworld – the place where gods of fertility and death and our ancestors live. Heavenly gods and creatures live in the crown of the tree. The life of a human follows the stem of the tree. Branches are associated with stars, fruit and birds (most frequently, the eagle). The middle part of the tree is also associated with the following animals: elk, deer as well as cattle and horses. Roots are home to snakes, frogs, mice, badgers and bears as well as monsters of the underworld.
Widely spread in the whole world, the World Tree also has a deep meaning in the context of Estonian culture. Estonia is a country rich in forests where trees are, both in the pragmatic as well as the symbolic sense, some of the most valued elements of the environment and are genetically related to the Estonian concept of home.
The World Tree unites the heaven and the earth but also the classical elements: air, water, earth and fire. It embodies a model of the world which is ruled by balance and the principle of diversity. The World Tree is a symbol that can be understood in the whole world but is also familiar to Estonians.
The graphic design of the World Tree was developed by AS Identity, receiving the Estonian advertising award Kuldmuna (Golden Egg) for it in 2004.
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