A recent study about the environmental awareness of Estonian residents shows that the locals highly value both the environmental status and the possibilities of spending time in nature.
“The study results indicated that 90% of the residents had spent time in nature within the past year and 55% have also gone to nature or hiking trails. Therefore, the study does not confirm the view that Estonian residents have dramatically alienated from the nature. As the Minister of the Environment, I am glad to recognise that 84% of the respondents went to nature repeatedly, for mushroom or berry picking, fishing or for another purpose,” noted Marko Pomerants, the Minister of the Environment.
89% of the residents consider the environmental status of Estonia in general to be good, whereas 8% considered the environmental status to be bad. The respondents considered the most problematic areas to be, for example, the cleanliness of the sea, the mining of mineral resources, the status of inland fish fauna and the sustainable use of natural resources. The respondents suggested that more attention should be given to the cleanliness of both the sea and inland water bodies.
Among the regions, Ida-Viru County stands out with negative evaluations: 23% of the residents of this region considered the environmental status of Estonia bad. “The Ida-Viru region is characterised by lower awareness and less environmentally friendly behaviour, as well as by more negative evaluations of both the environmental status and the environmental awareness of the people. Compared to people living in other parts of the country, the residents of Ida-Viru County held more negative views, for example, about waste management, cleanliness of ambient air and water, industrial pollution prevention, sustainable use of natural resources and availability of the extracurricular education related to the environment,” outlined Vaike Vainu, the study leader of Turu-uuringud AS.
Younger people evaluated the situation of several environmental areas and the reuse of waste more positively. Of all age groups, 15 to 19-year-olds seem to be the most aware of climate change mitigation. “The positive sense of criticism of younger people is also evident in the fact that respondents under 30 assessed their own behaviour to be environmentally friendly less frequently than the average. This is probably because young people are more familiar with the concept of environmentally aware behaviour and their own attitude towards their behaviour is corresponding,” the Minister of the Environment analysed.
89% of the respondents considers their behaviour to be environmentally aware, whereas 17% even considered themselves to be very environmentally aware. In previous studies, the behaviour of other people has been evaluated lower and this is the case also this year – the behaviour of other people was considered to environmentally friendly by 72% of respondents and not environmentally friendly by 24%. “However, compared to previous studies, the opinions regarding the behaviour of other people have improved. Even two years ago, the number of people who evaluated the behaviour of others to be environmentally friendly was 5% smaller and six years ago, the number of these respondents was smaller by one third. This indicates that people sense a general increase in environmental awareness,” explained Vainu.
An eye-to-eye study was conducted by Turu-uuringute AS in May 2016. The random sample includes 1,000 residents of Estonia above 14 years old. In addition to environmental awareness, the study also dealt with the opinions on the current status of the environment, notions about environmental protection, attitude towards different energy sources, interest in environmental topics and satisfaction with the availability of information related to these topics. Awareness and attitude towards climate change were introduced as new topics in this study.