Do urban brownfields have any value?
Meelis Uustal convinces to rethink seemingly useless areas, the urban brownfields, which provide habitats for numerous species and are mostly ecologically valuable. On a large extent, urban brownfields carry a negative connotation and refer to derelict industrial, military or mining areas. However, on a closer look it appears that these derelict areas provide valuable habitats and can offer nice recreational area for people as well. It has not been an easy job to prove that urban brownfields can have nature protection value. The author brings examples of different uses of derelict lands and of their biodiversity. Estonian brownfields occupy about 5–7% of urban territory. The author sums up by saying that brownfields do not have to be brown lands: instead, they can be turned into attractive recreational areas.
Animals invade towns
Hanno Zingel draws attention to an inevitable process: some animals like to live in towns, too. We better get used to our animal neighbours, as they mostly pose no threat to people. It has been witnessed everywhere in Europe that species of natural landscapes are moving into urban areas, be it herring gulls, goshawks, eagle owls, but also flying squirrels and even black storks.
Estonian Nature enquires
Mart Jüssi is worried about the marbled seal, the animal of the year.
Ester Valdvee tells about the activities related to introducing the military orchid, the orchid of the year.
Butterfly of the Year: the Nordic peacock
Mati Martin portrays the first elected butterfly of the year: the European Peacock (or Peacock butterfly) looks familiar to most of us, but its ways of life include numerous interesting aspects. For example, the male butterfly can only mate once in his life and dies soon after it. Females live longer and lay up to half thousand eggs. The species has two ways to keep away enemies: first, it folds its wings to create camouflage, and when the crypsis does not work, it unfolds its wings to display its „eyespots“, scaring away predators.
Lake Ball, a rarity disappearing from Estonian waters
Erich Kukk and Aimar Rakko introduce a species of filamentous green algae which has a characteristic growth form: the algae grow into large green balls and thus catch people’s interest in Estonia, but also elsewhere, especially Japan. The authors explain the taxonomy of the species and its three different growthforms. Even though the algae are not very demanding, it is a very rare one: only 300 sites have been found all over the world in past 200 years. Over half of the sites do not host the species any more. In Estonia, Lake Ball colonies have been determined in six lakes.
This year the focus is on Cambisols
Raimo Kõlli, Alar Astover and Indrek Tamm take a look down in Earth: this year, the soil of the year was elected for the first time. The Cambisols are characterized by leaching of carbonates from the top 30-cm layer. However, the main characteristic of the soils is the process of fine grains turning into clay minerals. The horizon differentiation is weak. This is evident from weak, mostly brownish discolouration and/or structure formation in the soil profile. The authors take a rather detailed look into the classification and variations of Cambisols. Cambisols are mostly quite productive (most productive among Estonian soils) and provide stable moisture regime. In Estonia they occupy 7.7% of the soil cover and are most common in Lääne-Viru and Järva counties.
The sound landscapes of Estonian nature
Veljo Runnel describes the content of the CD accompanying the current issue: the sounds or absence of sounds give as clues about our location in nature. The CD carries sounds recorded in forests and on clearings, in parks and cemeteries, towns and villages, meadows and grasslands, mires and waterbodies.
Interview: Roots are more interesting, yet less known than the terrestrial part of the plant
Toomas Kukk has interviewed the prize winners of national science awards: Krista Lõhmus and Ivika Ostonen-Märtin.
The abundance of plant rarities in Vilsandi national park
Tarmo Pikner praises the orchid diversity of our oldest protected area: there are 108 plant species growing on the border of its distribution. At the same time, the land is constantly rising in the area, creating new habitats. Some areas, like Kuusnõmme area have been unmanaged for the past 70–80 years. These are areas of remarkable scientific value. The author is, however, worried about the plants being eaten while managing the seminatural communities. He points out the need to leave some areas unmanaged and leave certain areas intact for scientific research.
Why manage waterbodies?
Tauno Jürgenstein advices to point the local fishing clubs to become the managers of waterbodies, like it used to be in the olden days. He explains the essence of waterbody management and looks at the status quo of Estonian fishing: who are the fishermen and which species are caught from which type of waterbodies. It seems clear that the state is too far from fishermen, and he advises to create direct contacts between managers and fishermen. There are many fears from both sides, but it is clear that managers should have a common aim: to improve the state of fish resources in all waterbodies.
A wedding in good nick
Karl Ander Adami crashed a wedding of European common frogs and presents us wedding pictures and local society news.
Tree of the Year: the eggs coloured with alder buckthorn
Tõnu Ploompuu’s article is very topical considering the upcoming Easter holidays: the pieces of alder buckthorn bark add a nice reddish-brown tone to Easter eggs.
Tiit Kändler’s essay: Nature’s money and people’s money
Elli Lellep 100
Aino Kalda calls up the memory of Elli Lellep, the botanist who was dedicated to using native plants in furbishing, as well as to teaching and plant systematics. She was a hard and active worker one could always count on. The article accentuates her main activities and research interests.
Estonian Alexander School, the milestone of our awakening and educational history
Aimur Joandi gives an overview of the educational institution which celebrated its 125th birthday last year, and of its impacts on our culture.