Relict lakes of southern Saaremaa

Site description (2000 baseline):

Site location and context
A complex of shallow (<2 m), relict lakes and vast reedbeds along the southern coast of Saaremaa island. Mud is extracted from Mullutu and Suurlaht lakes for its curative properties. The main economic activities are fishing, reed-cutting (`Other' land-use, below) and hunting.

Key biodiversity
The area is an important staging area for migrating Anser anser and Grus grus and a notable breeding area for several waterbirds. Significant proportion (³1%) of national population breeding at site: Grus grus (10 pairs), Larus minutus (50 pairs), Chlidonias niger (20 pairs).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
Major threats are posed by unsustainable hunting, tourism, and the overgrowth of coastal meadows with reed Phragmites due to undergrazing. The IBA is a planned core area of the West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, as well as a potential Ramsar Site. Research involves monitoring of breeding birds and migrating waterbirds.

Protected areas
National Low International High285 ha of IBA covered by Nature Protection Area (Linnulaht Lake, 285 ha). 5,735 ha of IBA covered by Biosphere Reserve (West Estonian Archipelago, 1,560,000 ha).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Relict lakes of southern Saaremaa. Downloaded from on 07/12/2023.