Summary Eesti Loodus 2013/05. Special issue: RAPLAMAA / RAPLA COUNTY

 Summary

My life at Raplamaa

Margus Mikomägi reflects on the location and spirit of Raplamaa, or Rapla County. The strength of the county seems to encompass spiritual individuality and location on the border. The author lives in the small village of Raela and takes discusses his own origin, as well as the spirit of this quite newly founded county.

The springs of Raplamaa

Katrin Erg introduces the numerous springs of the Rapla County. Most of the springs are related to the phenomenon of karst. Several of them become large lakes in springtime, several are related to folk tales and any are protected as natural or architectural monu ments.

The origination of the Rapla County

Taavi Pae recalls how the county was formed and expanded during the Soviet administrative arrangement. In a large scale, Raplamaa embraces the southern part of historical Harjumaa. Large administrative changes took place after World War II, when Rapla rayon (rajoon) as a new administrative unit was founded in 1950. Nowadays Raplamaa encompasses also two parishes from former Läänemaa, and some parts from old Livonia.

Raplamaa as seen by a cultural historian and folklorist

Marju Kõivupuu looks at what has changed in the way of thinking of the people of Raplamaa during the past centuries. There are many symbols that portray the history and identity of Raplamaa, such as the Varbola stronghold, Paluküla holy hill, several springs, karst phenomena known as Ida’s urked and large boulders. On top of that, some people believe that Raplamaa is the home for UFOs.

The diverse heritage culture of Raplamaa

Jürgen Kusmin and Triin Kusmin take a glance at the practical activities of our ancestors. Many of these activities have left traces in the nowadays landscape. The most important object of heritage culture is the narrow-gauge railway that operated between Rapla and Virtsu in 1931–1968, and the related infrastructure. There are also hideouts of “forest brothers”, old taverns, windmills, memorial stones, limestone quarries, historical dwellings and buildings, as well as sites of interesting history and placenames.

 Birds and bird areas

Monika Laurits-Arro commends the diversity and uniqueness of the bird fauna of Raplamaa: there are several interesting species as well valuable bird areas to be discovered. As 53% of the county is covered with forest, the different forest habitats form important sites for numerous bird species. There are also large bog areas, as bogs cover 33% of the county’s territory.

From Northern Dragonhead to Thesium ebracteatum

Ülle Kukk gives an overview of the protected and rare plant species of Raplamaa. It is a botanically interesting area, located on the border between Upper and Lower Estonia. The landscapes have been shaped by the different development stages of the Baltic Sea. The closeness of limestone bedrock and paludification processes add varieties to the landscape, creating habitats for valuable plant species. The author introduces several characteristic plant species of the county.

The manors and parks of Raplamaa

Jaanus Kiili fills in about the manor complexes of the Rapla county: most of the main buildings were destroyed during the 1905 Revolution, when 41 main buildings were burned down; and those which have remained, are largely in quite a poor condition. Most of the manors were founded in 13th–14th century. The oldest complexes were destroyed in Livonian War or in Northern War. Manor parks are also important cultural elements in the landscape, and the author brings several examples of different manor parks of Raplamaa.

 

Natural values of Raplamaa

Uudo Timm sums up the peculiarities of the county’s nature. First and foremost, it is a county of large wetlands and forest stands, but the characteristics also include the abundance of karst forms and relief forms shaped by the Baltic Ice Lake. Alvars are among the most valuable habitats of Raplamaa, while karst areas are also typical, and several landscape protection areas have been formed in order to preserve the unique landscape features. The article lists and describes all protected areas of the county: there are 10 nature protection areas, 15 landscape protection areas, 9 undefined protected areas, 59 protected parks or forest stands, 35 Natura 2000 areas, 73 habitats of protected species and 132 single protected objects. A detailed map complements the overview.

Exciting old trees

Hendrik Relve presents the noteworthy old trees of Raplamaa. Most of these have mighty measures or interesting shape, but also fascinating folk stories related to them. These extraordinary trees include the Sipa linden tree with its four thick branches, Estonia’s thickest elm tree, the Veski elm tree, the thickest juniper at Lokuta, and two thickest apple trees of Estonia. There is also the Vanale linden tree with 21 branches growing up from the same system.

Raplamaa is rich in birch and spruce forests

Heiki Hepner calculates the share of forest at Raplamaa and comes to the conclusion that there is more than Estonian average amount of forest in the county. What makes the forests unique is the large share of alvar forests.

Bug pearls from Raplamaa

Allan Selin shares his knowledge of rare insects. In order to find them, one has to be attentive, but also equipped with wisdom. The author introduces several little-known and rare insects which have been found from different spots of Raplamaa in recent years.

Interview: There is plenty to notice in nature of the Märjamaa surroundings

Toomas Kukk has interviewed Harri Jõgisalu, a writer.

Fragments of the cultural heritage of Hageri

Virve Õunapuu covers the development of four artists originating from the Hageri parish. The parish has had a very strong Christian congregation, and the Moravian missionaries were very actice as well. All this has had a strong impact on the cultural history of the Hageri area. Much innovation was brought here by the playwright August von Kotzebue, who also had a art teacher for his kids. In the beginning of the 19th century, the teacher Carl Walther tutored many children of the Baltic Germans.

The alvars of Raplamaa

Rein Kalamees stresses the distinctive features of the alvars of Raplamaa, compared to the other alvar areas of Estonia. The best-known alvars are the Lipstu heath and the Rangu heath, which are former clearings of alvar forests. Research has shown that the average number of vascular plant species per square metre is 31, and the maximum is 35 species at the Rangu heath.

Hiking experiences at Raplamaa

Tiit Petersoo and Tiiu Susi help the hikers to find the best turn-offs to become acquainted with the natural and cultural treasures of Raplamaa. They introduce 8 hiking trails, located at Kuimetsa karst field, Loosalu–Paluküla, Velise, Kõnnu, Vana-Vigala, Pae, Jalase-Sõbessoo and the Mukri landscape protection area.

The nature park of alvar forests at Raplamaa

Jaanus Kiili and Toomas Kukk propose to create a nature park in the surroundings of Vardi and Märjamaaa, based on existing protected areas. The proposed park would incorporate the areas of Varbola, Russalu, Lümandu, Vaimõisa and Kõrvetaguse, as well as the protected areas and Natura 2000 areas of the Kasari river. The most valuable landscape features of the area include different karst formations and alvars, but also the diverse historical-cultural heritage of the area.