Young people from national parks discovered natural values far from home


Margit Turb

In the middle of June, three joint courses for young nature conservationists took place in Estonian national parks. Young people from Vilsandi and Karula met in Vilsandi National Park, young nature conservationists from Matsalu visited the young people of Lahemaa National Park, and young nature conservationists of Soomaa visited young people from Alutaguse National Park. 
In the summer multi-day course, people learned about local natural communities, species, as well as cultural heritage and history. In Lahemaa National Park, participants travelled back in time as much as 6,000 years and admired the copies of the rock drawings found by Lake Äänisjärve (Onega). In Saaremaa Museum, the participants of the course explored the findings of the Salme Viking ship. The course members from Alutaguse National Park became acquainted with the former military objects and village architecture of Ida-Viru County.


purjepaadis on hulk noori, sõuavad mööda vett
On the river Rannapungerja. Krista Kingumets

During the course, participants also visited two islands: Vilsandi and Mohn. On the island of Vilsandi, the young people saw which plants would grow first on pebble ridges piled up from the sea; they learned about coastal and alvar plants and water birds. Those going to Mohn Island had to brave the heavy rain to reach the island. On the island, the participants made a trip through an inland dune, forest, and a unique crowberry heath. They also became acquainted with the restoration works of the crowberry heath. 

noored kõnneivad liivasel mererannal piki laudteed
On Mohn Island. Ave Huugen

In the training course for young nature conservationists, a good practice is to do volunteer work for nature. In the village of Kõruse of Vilsandi National Park, young people helped to collect junipers that had been felled in the winter. Now there is more light in the area, and the small plants in the alvars have better growth opportunities. On Muuksi Hillfort in Lahemaa, pruning shears and saws were used to open up the hiking trail there.  

noormees paneb puuoksi traktorikärusse
Volunteer work in village Kõruse. Tuuli Hommik

What makes this summer's course special and memorable is that young people who travelled to another national park were able to experience nature while hiking, camping, and doing fieldwork. Participants made new acquaintances and invited their new friends to visit them. Everybody also hoped that joint camps would also take place in the future. 

The following summer course for young nature conservationists will take place on the 23rd-25th of August for the youth of Otepää Nature Park. Next, seminars for young people in national parks will be held in the fall. The Environmental Board has organised traditional courses for young nature conservationists since 2004.