Enhancing the reliability of environmental data in Estonia

Local news, 24.11.2011

On 24 November 2011, Switzerland and Estonia signed the first project agreement in the domain of “Environment and Infrastructure”. The project will enable the Estonian authorities to better monitor water quality, air pollution and radioactivity levels, and to localize natural hazards. Switzerland is supporting the project with a total contribution of CHF 8.5 million.

National park Laheema
Almost one-half of Estonia is covered by forests, and one-fifth by swamps, moorland and bogs. © SECO

Within the scope of the project, Switzerland will outfit Estonian laboratories and monitoring stations with state-of-the art equipment and finance the training of the personnel. In this way, in the future Estonia will be able to dispose of comprehensive and reliable environmental data. Such data is not only needed in order to comply with various EU directives, but it will also enable the Estonian authorities to make well-founded and effective decisions on measure to protect the environment.

For Estonians, nature is important

A student in general ecology at the University of Bern spent her internship examining how the project executing agency could inform Estonians about the Swiss infrastructure projects in an effective manner. Early 2011, she travelled through Estonia and interviewed 13 persons. Among her questions was one on the significance of nature for the population of Estonia. Here are a few quotations from the persons interviewed:

“There are a large amount of swamps or moorlands where one can go hiking.”

“Estonia boasts of a pristine nature. The population density is extremely low. This makes it possible to stroll kilometres through the woods and nature without seeing a house or other people.”

“A thousand kilometres of seacoast with beautiful sandy beaches.”

“Estonia has islands where every day the people still wear their national costumes and preserve their own culture.

“1500 lakes – little lakes where you can enjoy a good swim in the summer.”

“A whole lot of Estonians love to go to the forests and pick berries or look for mushrooms.”

“Whoever can afford it either buys himself a farm or builds a summer house somewhere near the water.”

Estonian Environmental Research Center
Thanks to training and new equipment, for example the specialists at the Estonian environmental research centre will in future be able to analyse 33 harmful substances in Estonia's waters. Among other things, the aim is to prevent harmful substances from getting into the food chain. © SECO