Mid-Symposium Excursions

Mid1. Järvselja Nature Reserve and Free Air Humidity (FAHM) experimental site
Järvselja Nature Reserve in south-eastern Estonia contains primeval mature herb-rich forests. The forest has been under strict protection since 1924, and is believed to have received little anthropogenic impact throughout history. The tree layer consists of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and deciduous tree species (most commonly Acer platanoides L., Populus tremula L., Tilia cordata Mill.). We will also visit the free air humidity manipulation (FAHM) experimental site. The primary aim of this experiment is to study the effects of atmospheric humidity on ecosystems with different degrees of functional complexity and on the processes within these ecosystems (water, carbon and nitrogen cycles, productivity, changes in species composition, etc.).
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Mid2. Endla Nature Reserve
This excursion will take participants some 60 km north of Tartu through the drumlin range formed during the last continental glaciation to Männikjärve bog, Endla Nature Reserve. Here participants will see different stages of paludification – from shallow lake infilling and quagmire to raised bog with elongated bog pools. The Baltic Mire Research Station was opened here in 1910 to study the use of peatlands in agriculture and forestry. Research and monitoring continues, making Männikjärve bog one of the most thoroughly studied bogs. The Endla mire system has been under protection since 1981. Endla became an international Ramsar site in 1997.
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Mid3. Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve
The Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve contains some 3000 ha of floodplain meadows that have almost completely escaped intensive agriculture and that benefit from a natural flooding regime. The meadows have suffered abandonment and shrub encroachment since the 1980s. Mowing was partly re-introduced in 2000 and the restored area now extends to about half of the historical area. The flooded meadows of River Pedja now serve as an ecologically healthy complex of habitats for floodplain flora and fauna and also as an aesthetically enjoyable landscape for wetland visitors.
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Mid4. Ahja River Valley Landscape Reserve
Ahja River Valley Landscape Reserve is meant to protect the valley of the Ahja River with its adjoining valleys and the high red Devonian sandstone outcrops on the valley slopes. Our trip will pass the vigorous temperate coniferous forests on the valley sides and the meadows on the valley floor. The most popular sights are Suur & Väike Taevaskoda (Grand & Small Heaven’s Hall, in verbatim), which are remarkable sandstone escarpments, about 22.5 and 13 metres high, accordingly. We’ll walk along the 6-kilometre-long hiking trail that goes up and down on the banks of the river between Saesaare and Otteni watermill sites and takes about 3-4 hours walking time.
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Mid5. Western shore of Lake Peipsi
On this excursion we will visit the eastern part of Tartumaa county. The eastern border of the county – Lake Peipsi – is also the state border between Estonia and Russia. We will see the sights of the Padakõrve Nature Reserve, which was founded for the protection of the kame field and several forest types (e.g. Natura 2000 habitat types like Western taiga and bog woodlands). This nature reserve is also famous for its red wood ant (Formica aquilonia) population, which is among the most abundant in Europe. On this excursion we will observe dry boreal forest, fresh boreal forest, fresh boreonemoral forest and minerotrophic swamp forest. We’ll combine the natural and cultural aspects of the area. The so called ‘Onion Route’ provides a snapshot of three cultures: Russian Old Believers, Baltic German nobility and Estonian peasant culture.
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Mid6. Tartu city tour
This excursion will be a largely cultural, but also botanical, walking tour, visiting the main sights of the historical city of Tartu – medieval Saint John’s Church, famous for its unique terracotta sculptures, Dome Hill with its remains of a medieval church and University Museum, the old University Campus, etc. The excursion will also pass the old Botanical Garden of the University, the Tähtvere “professors’ quarter” and the unique and well-preserved wooden urban region of Karlova with houses dating from the early 20th century.
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