All excursions will occur in four main destinations: the region of Pärnu and South-West Estonia; the region of Tartu and Central Estonia; Western Estonia, and Eastern Estonia. Groups on excursions in the same area will come together at the end of the day for mingling at an outdoor cultural event and barbeque. Any participants preferring to leave for Tallinn will be taken back after excursions. Tentative field trip programmes are presented below.
Paludification has begun in this location from the overgrowth of an ancient lagoon lake between beach ridges covered with dry pine forest. A boardwalk leads visitors through a pine forest with overgrowing shallow water bodies between sandy ridges. The boardwalk continues through the bog forest to a pool area and observation tower. The tour will end in a former peat extraction area restored in 2012-2013 using the Canadian method.
The central area of Männikjärve bog (with observation tower) is characterised by hollow-ridge complexes and elongated bog pools, whereas a bog forest comprises most margins. In 1910 the Experimental Mire Research Station was opened here. Initially, studies where concentrated on the characteristics of mires and their potential use in agriculture and forestry. Later research included mire development and so on. Owing to this, Männikjärve bog today is one of the best-studied bogs in the region. There is a small exhibition in a building that formerly housed the mire school.
Soomaa (in Estonian „land of mire”) National Park was formed in 1993 to protect a sizeable natural bog, forest and flooded meadow area with high and prolonged seasonal floods. Peculiarities in the flow of Soomaa rivers cause the biggest seasonal river floods in Estonia, during which vast meadow and forest areas (ca 175 km2) are flooded for several weeks. The biggest water table fluctuation amplitude is approximately 5,7 m – the flood period being locally referred to as „the fifth season”. A boardwalk will take participants through an alluvial forest to an open bog with pools. Kuresoo bog is one of the biggest bog massifs in Estonia with the steepest bog slope (6-8 m within 50-100 m) in Estonia (and likely also in Europe).
Several peatlands in Northeast Estonia were destroyed by oil shale mining activities and subsequently damaged by atmospheric pollution – predominantly by very alkaline calcium-rich oil shale fly ash (pH of water solution up to 12). In this area, the biggest changes in bog geochemistry and vegetation have been recorded in those bogs nearest to electric power plants. During the excursion, we will visit peatlands bordering open pit mining operations as well those affected by atmospheric pollution, and see the industrial use of peat as a co-resource.
Alam-Pedja wetlands alongside Emajõgi river are the biggest flooded river meadow areas in the region. Floods on natural meadows protect the downstream city of Tartu from potentially dangerous floods. The importance of peatlands in flood control and their impact on regional hydrology will be discussed. The excursion will be partly held on a boat on Emajõgi.
The Endla Nature Reserve (established in 1985, Ramsar designated area since 1997) protects a freshwater system representing a complex of different wetland types – mires, lakes, swamp forests, springs and rivers that together support a rich diversity of species. The reserve is located in the Central part of Estonia. Approximately 40 springs have been counted in the area including Sopa Spring, which at 4.8 m, is Estonia’s deepest. The Vilbaste Springs offer a view of groundwater “boiling up” – a unique feature on the bottom of Võlingi River.
One of the oldest mire research stations is preserved within the Reserve area. The station was founded as an experimental station for peatland drainage management in 1910. The mire hydro-meteorological station has been operating on the bog since 1950. Several research projects with various study objectives have been carried out here, utilising the best-equipped mire research station in Estonia. Today the older, traditional research facilities operate in parallel with increasingly modern equipment. The surface of the approximately 8000-year-old bog consists of picturesque pool-ridge ecotypes in the central part, skirted by human-induced ecotypes at the margins.
This field trip will focus on industrial peat utilisation for energy purposes. Participants will get the chance to visit several sites where peat fuel is produced using different extraction technologies as well as the CHP power plant. Emphasis will be given to cutover peatland restoration practices in Estonia. Potential excursion destinations include the Tartu (200 km from Tallinn) and Pärnu (115 km from Tallinn) regions.
This field trip will introduce participants to horticultural applications of peat by visiting horticultural peat production sites that employ various production technologies, substrate factories, and shipping ports. Emphasis will be given to cutover peatland restoration. Potential excursion destinations include the city of Pärnu (115 km from Tallinn) and Western-Estonia (100 km from Tallinn).
This industrial field trip will focus on peat use in local greenhouses for flower and vegetable cultivation. Participants will have the opportunity to visit several growers near Tallinn and Tartu.
Estonia is known for both its wild berries and berry cultivation, especially cloudberry and cranberry. Berry growing is more common among SMEs, and is practised in different regions in Estonia. During this field trip, several cultivation sites and handling facilities will be visited.
In addition to these tentative field trip destinations and topics, additional field trips will be organised. Several will focus on introducing and outlining the current state of peatland use in forestry and agriculture in Estonia. A number will serve to introduce the cultural aspects of peatlands and their role in Estonian folklore, as well as the current balneological use of the peat. A total of approx. fifteen excursion destinations are anticipated, covering all fields of activities of IPS and introducing new and exciting fields.