LIFE to alvars - Restoration of Estonian alvar grasslands

LIFE13 NAT/EE/000082

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Contact details:

Contact person: Voldemar RANNAP
Tel: 37253411962
Fax: 3726272182
Email: Voldemar.Rannap@envir.ee

Project description:


Alvar grasslands are semi-natural grasslands with thin lime-rich soil on limestone bedrock. One third of all the alvar grasslands in Europe are found in Estonia. However, currently less than 30% of these are being managed annually (i.e. by animal grazing), which is necessary for the long-term survival of this habitat type. Unmanaged sites have become heavily overgrown with shrubs (mostly juniper, Juniperus communis) and trees (mostly Scots pine, Pinus sylvestris). In order to maintain the ecological connectivity and biodiversity of the country’s alvar grasslands, a minimum of 7 500 hectares needs to be subject to annual grazing. This is a target of the Estonian Nature Conservation Development Plan that will run until 2020.


The project’s main objective is to restore the most valuable, but currently overgrown, alvar areas on 2 500 ha of land and to create the right conditions for local farmers to manage these areas after the restoration. In order to achieve this aim, the project plans to introduce effective large-scale restoration methods and to create the necessary infrastructure for continuous management of the restored sites. The project also aims to directly involve private land owners and to raise awareness among the local community and the general public on the value of alvar areas and of the importance of managing them effectively.

Expected results:

  • The restoration of 2 500 ha of alvar meadows, ensuring that the tree and shrub coverage of the restored areas is no more than 40%;
  • The signing of at least 300 long-term contracts with farmers or local agricultural companies to graze their cattle/sheep in the area annually, ensuring their continuous management;
  • The local communities and the general public will be better informed about the value of the targeted habitat type, thanks to the project’s awareness-raising actions; and
  • At least 40 farmers or agricultural companies trained in the management work required for the project areas.



Environmental issues addressed:


Habitats - Grasslands


restoration measure‚  agricultural method‚  grassland ecosystem‚  protected area

Target species

 Crex crex   Cypripedium calceolus   Encalypta mutica   Lanius collurio   Liparis loeselii   Maculinea arion   Pulsatilla patens   Sisymbrium supinum   Sylvia nisoria   Thesium ebracteatum   Tortella rigens   

Target Habitat types

  • 6280 - Nordic alvar and precambrian calcareous flatrocks
  • 6530 - Fennoscandian wooded meadows
  • 8240 - Limestone pavements
  • 5130 - Juniperus communis formations on heaths or calcareous grasslands
  • 6210 - Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)

Natura 2000 sites

SPA EE0040001 Väinamere
SCI EE0040412 Kahtla-Kübassaare
SPA EE0040434 Kura kurgu
SCI EE0040441 Kaugatoma-Lõu
SPA EE0040444 Mullutu-Loode
SCI EE0040472 Sutu lahe
SCI EE0040476 Tagamõisa
SCI EE0040496 Vilsandi
SCI EE0040002 Väinamere
SCI EE0040121 Paope loo
SCI EE0040353 Kurese
SCI EE0040457 Rannaniidi
SCI EE0040458 Ranna-Põitse
SCI EE0040477 Tahula-Reo
SCI EE0040478 Tammese
SCI EE0040486 Väikese väina
SCI EE0040490 Vesitükimaa
SCI EE0040497 Võrsna
SCI EE0040443 Mullutu-Loode



Coordinator The Environmental Board
Type of organisation National authority
Description The Estonian Environmental Board forms part of the ministry of the environment. Its main task is to implement national policies on the use of the environmental resources and ecosystem services, and to contribute to the development and improvement of environmental and conservation legislation and regulations. The board has lengthy experience in the restoration and management of semi-natural grasslands in Estonia and has already been involved in several LIFE projects aimed at restoring these Annex I (EU Habitats Directive) habitats in the country.
Partners EULS(Estonian University of Life Sciences), Estonia UT(University of Tartu), Estonia ESCCA(Estonian Seminatural Community Conservation Association), Estonia


Project reference LIFE13 NAT/EE/000082
Duration 01-SEP-2014 to 01-SEP -2019
Total budget 3,725,865.00 €
EU contribution 2,791,305.00 €
Project location Lääne-Eesti(Estonia Eesti)


Read more:

Project web site Project's website
Project web site - 2 Project's Facebook page
Video link Project's video (1:58)


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version