Year of compilation: 2000

Site description
A complex of shallow (<4 m) sea bays and small islets on the west coast of Saaremaa island, with vast coastal meadows, reedbeds, saltmarshes and shallow lakes. The main economic activities are fishing, and grazing of sheep and cattle.

Key biodiversity
The most important staging area for migrating Branta leucopsis in Estonia.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Major threats are posed by unsustainable hunting, tourism, overgrowth of coastal meadows with reed Phragmites as a result of undergrazing, and intensive fishing. A core area of the West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Reserve is planned within the IBA. Naistekivimaa islet (part of the IBA) overlaps with Vilsandi National Park. Research involves monitoring of migrating waterbirds.

Protected areas
National Low International High50 ha of IBA covered by National Park (Vilsandi, 16,657 ha). 3,114 ha of IBA covered by Biosphere Reserve (West Estonian Archipelago, 1,560,000 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Karala-Pilguse. Downloaded from on 14/08/2020.