Vilsandi archipelago

Site description (2000 baseline):

Site location and context
A large complex of shallow (<5 m) bays on the western coast of Saaremaa island, with many small islets and some lakes. Vegetation includes reedbeds, coastal meadows, and forest. The main land-uses are nature-conservation projects and research, and grazing of cattle and sheep.

Key biodiversity
Vilsandi archipelago is an important breeding, staging and wintering area for waterbirds, especially wildfowl, and notably Polysticta stelleri in winter. Significant proportion (³1%) of national population breeding at site: Larus canus (400 pairs), Sterna caspia (3-4 pairs).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Tourism poses a major threat. Research includes large-scale complex monitoring of birds and the environment.

Protected areas
National High International High18,230 ha of IBA covered by National Park (Vilsandi, 23,756 ha). 18,230 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Vilsandi National Park, 24,100 ha). 18,230 ha of IBA covered by Biosphere Reserve (West Estonian Archipelago, 1,560,000 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Vilsandi archipelago. Downloaded from on 25/09/2023.