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Ecosystem services of Estonian wetlands

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  • Agricultural Science
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Law


The purpose of this thesis is to highlight the status of Estonian wetlands and ecosystem services provided by them and to assess the challenges to their wise use. The broad wetland definition of the Ramsar Convention and the ecosystem services approach of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as basic concepts have been followed. Estonia has achieved good results in wetland protection and the integration of the wise use of wetlands into the legal framework and development strategies. Although a large proportion of wetlands have been converted to agricultural land and drained for forestry, and are continuously destroyed for peat and oil shale mining, Estonia is still rich in wetlands, both in terms of their total area and the great variety of habitats. The array of provisioning, regulating, cultural and supporting services are provided by wetlands. There are still crucial challenges - the addressing of drained wetland areas that have become sources of greenhouse gases, attaining sustainable use of peat resources and ensuring the restoration of cut-away peatland areas, the maintenance of the traditional management of valuable semi-natural wetlands. In order to ensure more balanced decision-making it should be followed that all ecosystem services of given wetland or wetlands generally are taken into account. The existing expertise and large amount of information on biodiversity components and the functioning of wetland ecosystems is an excellent basis for further research and the implementation of the ecosystem services approach.

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