Estonia lies on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea . A unique and important area, the Baltic Sea is the largest brackish water system in the world with marked salinity gradients so that there are areas cohabited by freshwater, brackish water and marine species. Many species of gulls, ducks, terns and waders overwinter along the eastern Baltic coast with priority species including the Common Goldeneye (LC), Artic Tern (LC) and Great Cormorant (LC). The marine environment also supports rarer species such as Seller's Eider (VU) and the Long-tailed Duck (VU) which has undergone a precipitous population decline in the last 20 years shown by studies of wintering populations in the Baltic Sea (Skov et al. 2011). The Irbe Strait IBA (transboundary with Latvia) IBA also supports Velvet Scoters (EN). Between 2005 and 2009 the large-scale LIFE-Nature project managed by the Baltic Environmental Forum and involving BirLife partners in Estonia and neighbouring countries focussed on the identification and revision of existing IBAs in coastal areas. The project also undertook work to reduce the impact of the key threats and public awareness was raised through the media, information stands and seminars for stakeholders etc. Work is undergoing to ensure there are regular offshore seabird counts, to include all candidate marine IBAs are included in the Natura 2000 designation and to establish national legislation for protection of IBAs.
Current key threats to seabirds in Estonia include
o Fisheries by-catch
o Coastal development and construction
o The development of 6 more management plans for existing coastal MPAs under the ESTMAR project.
o EIA/ Natura 2000 assessment of habitats
o Monitoring of protected bird species, staging and wintering water birds, beached water birds and breeding birds of small islets and the coast
o Restoration and management of costal meadows on islets
Government's support/relevant policy
As a results of the LIFE-Nature project in Estonia borders of existing MPAs were confirmed. The ESTMAR project is underway to contribute to the implementation of Natura 2000 in Estonian marine areas and involves the investigation of new open sea areas. Preliminary results have demonstrated that there are offshore shallow areas of high ecological value. Please see policy tab for list of agreements that this country is party to.
Petrels and shearwaters
Gulls and terns
Ducks, geese and swans
IUCN Red List Status
The numbers in brackets refer to the country's rank when compared to other countries and territories globally.
o Durinck et al. (1994) Important marine areas for wintering birds in the Baltic Sea. Report to the European Commission by Ornis Consult.
o Skov et al. (2000) Inventory of coastal and marine Important Bird Areas in the Baltic Sea. BirdLife Denmark, Danish Ornithological Society, Copenhagen.
o Skov H., Durinck J., Leopold, M.F. and Tasker M.L. (2007).A quantitative method for evaluating the importance of marine areas for conservation of birds. Biological Conservation 136: 362
BirdLife International (2022) Country profile: Estonia. Available from http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/country/estonia. Checked: 2022-06-28