Pre-Symposium Excursion 1

Western Estonia and Islands (20–25 June, 2013)
Estonia is one of the few countries in Europe where historical semi-natural grasslands remain in their traditional appearance. The origin of these semi-natural communities dates back thousands of years, but the last century has brought an enormous change in land-use and decline in the area of semi-natural habitats. In this excursion, we will get acquainted with all the main types of semi-natural habitats characteristic of Northern Europe. We will visit the famous species-rich wooded meadows and wooded pastures, distinctive dry calcareous alvar grasslands, vast flooded meadows encompassing thousands of hectares and well-preserved coastal meadows with extraordinary bird-life. We also take a peek at other important habitats characteristic of the boreal zone – different types of old-growth forests, orchid-rich spring fens, immense bogs and coastal communities. We will explore the cultural and architectural heritage and enjoy the local dishes and customs. Our route takes us through the lovely summer resorts of Haapsalu and Pärnu, and the highlight of the trip will be the Baltic Sea islands of Muhu and Saaremaa. Come and discover some of the best-preserved nature in Europe. This excursion will be organised and guided by Aveliina Helm.

Starts Ends
PRE1 morning of 20 June from Tallinn afternoon of 25 June in Tartu

For people who are arriving at 19 June, we recommend accommodation in Ülemiste hotel. The excursion will depart on 20 June approximately at 10 AM in front of this hotel. For booking Ülemiste hotel, please contact the Symposium Secretariat:

In case of any questions, please contact Organising Committee:

Preliminary Itinerary
Day 1 Old-growth alvar forests in Raplamaa. Varbola stronghold from 12th century. Bird-rich Haeska coastal meadow in Matsalu National Park.
Accommodation and dinner in Haapsalu.
Day 2 Matsalu National Park: largest managed flooded meadow in Europe, floodplain forest, Viita alvar grassland and Viita wooded meadow.
Ferry to Saaremaa.
Koguva village in Muhu – Estonia’s best-preserved historical village. Free time in medieval Kuressaare town.
Accommodation and dinner in Kuressaare.
Day 3 Odalätsi boreal dune forest and springs. Mihkli Farm Museum – open-air museum representing typical, self-sufficient western Saaremaa farm. Hike in unique peninsula – Harilaid nature trail in Western Saaremaa (sand-communities).
Accommodation and dinner in Pilguse Manor, western Saaremaa.
Day 4 Viidumäe Nature Reserve – spring fens, old-growth forests and orchid-rich meadows. Loode orchid-rich oak-forest.
Accommodation and dinner in Pilguse Manor. Celebration of Midsummer’s Day.
Day 5 Kaali meteorite crater – European latest meteorite strike, extraordinary geological marvel. Üügu bioherm community and calcareous fen.
Ferry to mainland.
Laelatu wooded meadow. Puhtu broad-leaved forest and shingle beach. City-cows in Pärnu.
Accommodation and dinner in Pärnu.
Day 6 Hike in raised bog in Soomaa, boreal mixed forest.
End of the excursion in Tartu.