Visiting restrictions in Soomaa National Park

Soomaa National Park with its large bogs, meadows and floodplain forests forms an extensive wetland system, setting up natural barriers to the movement of people. Pursuant to the protection objectives of the national park, additional temporal restrictions on movement have been established and we ask our visitors at Soomaa to observe them. In Soomaa, the restrictions on the movement of people have been established in strict nature reserve and special management zones.

Temporal restrictions on movement have been established mainly to protect the landscape and bird species with low disturbance tolerance, who may be permanently scared off their nest by even the smallest change in normal situation. In addition to birds also many other species are sensitive to disturbance, including our large eagles and predators.

For getting familiar with the wildlife at Soomaa there are several facilities built in the national park, introducing the values of the protected area. It is also possible to order guided water and cross-country hikes from the entrepreneurs of Soomaa – visiting nature trails and participating in guided hikes is the best way to make friends with nature and sustain the environment.  

Strict nature reserves: Soomaa National Park includes Tuhametsa Strict Nature Reserve, which is a small and not easily accessible natural forest area is similar to the one seen on Ingatsi study trail on the bog ridge of Kuresoo. The objective of the strict nature reserve is to guarantee the functioning of natural processes untouched by human activity.

Special management zones: there are a total of 29 special management zones in Soomaa National Park, with temporary restrictions on movement established in three of them: Kikepera, Valgeraba and Paelama special management zones. Access is prohibited to Kikepera and Valgeraba special management zones from 15 February to 31 July and to Paelama special management zone from 15 March to 31 August.

Temporary restrictions have been established for areas with disturbance-sensitive species. These are remote, not easily accessible areas. Going to such areas on one’s own may prove to be dangerous for a person who is not familiar with the terrain – in case of losing the way or an accident, it is extremely complicated to organise rescue operations in such places. For those who are interested in the habitats of several protected and disturbance-sensitive animals and birds in Estonia, cameras have been installed, which allow following their activities online: see www.looduskalender.ee

Limited management zone includes the entire area of land and water, which remains outside the special management zones and strict nature reserves. In the limited management zone and special management zone of the National Park, where no time restrictions have been imposed, gathering berries and mushrooms and other activities that are not harmful for the environment are allowed. Camping, making bonfires and driving motor vehicles is permitted in designated locations only.

Nature trails and other visitor facilities have been built in Soomaa in such a way that people would not have to go through areas, where their presence might harm the environment.  On nature trails and in their vicinity one should not step off the trail, otherwise the surrounding area would be damaged, especially in bogs and elsewhere on wet ground. On the rivers of Soomaa only non-motorised water vehicles are allowed. For launching and landing we recommend using the prepared landing sites. Visitors are allowed to be on roads passing through private land and on shore paths from sunrise to sunset only. For landing by boat on private land for a longer period, the consent of the landowner is required.

As a rule, one person does not cause particular damage to wildlife, which, however, may easily happen if a lot of people occur in the same place at a time. A lot depends on the specific place, soil, season of the year and weather. In Soomaa National Park, to organise any public events outside the prepared sites the consent of the Environmental Board must be obtained and if the number of participants is 50 or more, the requirement also applies for events in prepared sites. To organise an event in natural areas, the conditions shall be previously negotiated and coordinated with RMK and the Pärnu-Viljandi region of the Environmental Board. Application forms for a major event can be found in the menu on the left, subdivision ‘Events’. Please find the contact information of the Pärnu-Viljandi region of the Environmental board at the end of this text.
 
Events that are held on roads and in other anthropogenic areas do not require coordination. However, it is necessary to obtain the landowner’s consent.

In the national park there are several prepared campfire sites and camping areas, the use of which does not require any special licence. It is necessary to agree with other users of campfire places or grounds, if there are any. These sites are mostly too small for organising public events (with twenty people or more). This is why before planning such an event one should definitely consult with the Environmental Board and RMK to find a suitable venue for the event.

Do not damage the soil, plants, trees while in the wild and do not disturb the inhabitants there – animals and people. Do not leave any waste behind.

For further information please contact the Soomaa information centre at +372 435 7164, +372 526 1924, e-mail: soomaa.teabepunkt@rmk.ee

To apply for consent please contact the Pärnu-Viljandi region of the Environmental Board, e-mail: parnu@keskkonnaamet.ee, phone: +372 447 7388