The Environmental Board asks people to act responsibly in nature

14.06.2021 | 19:28

Springs and summers are a very sensitive time in nature, when people should hike, camp and start fires only in areas specifically designated for these actions: special care should be taken in nature conservation areas. The Environmental Board asks people to remain respectful of nature as they spend their vacations among it.
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Springs and summers are a very sensitive time in nature, when people should hike, camp and start fires only in areas specifically designated for these actions: special care should be taken in nature conservation areas. The Environmental Board asks people to remain respectful of nature as they spend their vacations among it.

“A lot of species have now entered their nesting and mating periods, during which birds and animals are especially sensitive to human disturbance. Many of RMK’s hiking trails are located in national parks and conservation areas — places, where nature is most sensitive,” said Kaja Lotman, advisor to the Environmental Board Natural Resource Management Department.

It is wise to plan your hike before committing to it. “Your pet should be kept on a leash at all times, away from any nesting grounds where they could harm the local fauna. It is also vital to only drive vehicles on roads that are marked with a white continuous line,” adds Lotman.

Trash does not belong in nature, where it can harm animals and birds. Everything that you bring with you on your hike must also make the return trip with you. It is also important to remember that fires can only be lit in designated areas. Ignoring fire safety can lead to catastrophic accidents.

In order to prevent any potential problems, RMK and the Environmental Board have compiled a set of animated shorts that can help remind the basics of hiking in nature:

When driving near bodies of water, it is important to remember that all such bodies have a conservation belt, the purpose of which is to protect the habitats there, such as flora, birds and animals, as well as restricting human activity that could potentially harm nature. Driving along the shoreline with a car or any other vehicle can harm the soil and the gentle flora growing on top of it.

The size of the conservation belt depends on the size of the body of water. For example, the conservation belts of the Baltic Sea and our largest lakes — Peipus, Pihkva, Lammijärve and Võrtsjärve — are 200 meters in size. For lakes and water reservoirs over 10 hectares in size, as well as for rivers with basins over 25  km², the conservation belt becomes 100 meters. Smallest bodies of water have a conservation belt of 50 meters.  Driving vehicles inside the conservation belts is only allowed on specific roads. Parking is allowed in designated areas or on the side of the road. As an exception, it is allowed to drive motorised vehicles in conservation belts if this is necessary for performing maintenance of green spaces, as well as driving a water vehicle necessary for vocational or recreational fishing to bodies of water. 

Water vehicles should be driven slowly, especially in places where birds could be nesting. Before heading out, check if the use of motorboats is permitted on your route.

Movement restrictions are easily accessible through the user-friendly nature conservation area web map. Following the map will help reduce the amount of times birds are disturbed out of ignorance.

Inspectors from the Environmental Board perform routine checkups and raids every spring and summer to remind people of rules and to prevent possible violations. The most common problems that the inspectors face are driving and parking in forbidden areas, as well as camping and building campfires. In the case of a violation, inspectors will give guidelines for the removal of said violation. If necessary, a misdemeanour process is started.

During the nature conservation month that kicked off on 9 May, both the Environmental Board and nature tourism companies plan on organising hikes all over Estonia, allowing people to safely explore conservation zones. These hikes are listed on the Environmental Board’s home page.

Andri Küüts

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