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Government approved creation of Nabala-Tuhala ecological reserve

In today’s session, the Government approved the proposal of Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Minister of the Environment, for the creation of Nabala-Tuhala ecological reserve, which will combine several previously protected areas and ensure protection of the sensitive water regime.
The proposal for the creation of Nabala reserve was made as early as in 2010, but was met with strong opposition from the companies intending to establish mining operations in the same area. Over the period of four years, the Environmental Board and the Ministry of the Environment conducted a number of studies to identify the natural assets of the area and to clarify the preconditions and feasibility of establishment of an ecological reserve.
“Today’s decision of the Government ensures that one of Estonia’s most diverse and distinguished areas is protected. This was not an easy decision,” commented Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Minister of the Environment. It could be said that this is the most thoroughly studied area in Estonia. “Together with experts, we have reached the conclusion that the existing separate protected areas are insufficient to protect the sensitive water regime as well as the protected and endangered animals and birds,” Pentus-Rosimannus explained.
In the course of the studies, conducted over four years, experts have mapped the natural assets of the Nabala area. Expert assessments indicate that the area includes valuable protected and vulnerable habitats of plant, animal and bird species, as well as springs and stream areas.
The area as a whole is important for the preservation of natural diversity. For instance, endangered habitats include undamaged spring fens of which we only have a few left. The protection of species-rich fens is also insufficient, because only about ten per cent of Estonian fens have been preserved, compared to the beginning of the previous century. Soil drainage is the main factor affecting species-rich fens; it changes water regime and causes the fens to dry up.
The Nabala-Tuhala area further includes old natural forests, providing habitat for many protected species. This includes, for instance, the extremely vulnerable black stork and lesser-spotted eagle, five bird species in second protection category and tens of plant species in second protection category.
Experts and local residents have been consulted on the total area and protection regimes of the future protected area. The Nabala ecological reserve will combine several previously protected sites into a single area. The total area of the ecological reserve would be 4,628.7 ha, including 1,044.4 ha of previously protected area. The manager of the ecological reserve will be the Environmental Board.
The ecological reserve will comprise six special management zones (total area 2,147.8 ha) and two limited management zones (total area 2,489.8 ha) but no strict nature reserves. A significant part of the ecological reserve (nearly 1,040 ha) belongs to the Natura 2000 network and the area includes many habitat types and species listed in the Habitats Directive.
The ecological reserve is located on the territories of Sookaera, Arusta, Sõmeru, Piissoo, Kurevere and Paekna villages in Kiili rural municipality, Sookaera-Metsanurga, Kirdalu and Tagadi villages in Saku rural municipality, Tammiku, Kata and Tuhala villages in Kose rural municipality, and Angerja, Urge and Pahkla villages in Kohila rural municipality, Rapla county. The future Nabala ecological reserve is not something completely new; the first protected area in this region was established as early as in 1989.

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