Mires have always been somewhat mysterious to our nation. Everyone has heard stories about flickering lights misleading wanderers into the mire lakes, or of treasures hidden in swamps. At the same time bogs, with their inaccessibility, have offered shelter in troubled times. These landscapes, long underestimated and even despised, are becoming ever more valuable in our rapidly changing world. The earth and the water meet in wetlands, creating an entirely new association. Mires and other wetlands are transitional areas between land and water and thus one of the most peculiar environments.

The Nordic Council has defined wetlands as the most valuable types of landscape, taking into account the environmental services provided by the landscape to the society, such as carbon cycle, climate regulation etc. Estonia is almost entirely surrounded by wetlands and its mainland is covered with mires and their remnants - peat bogs (totaling 22.3% of the mainland). Due to agricultural drainage that started already on the 19th and picked up in the 20th century, the surface area of mires has severely decreased and now covers only 5.5 % of the mainland.

How does ELF protect the wetlands?

ELF aims to help preserve existing mires and, if needed, restore the parts that have been damaged by drainage. This is being carried out mainly in protected areas where the activities for the conservation of mires have already been agreed upon. ELF also monitors the influence of different strategies (i.e earth´s crust strategy) and developments (especially mines) on the mires and, if needed, draws up proposals during the environmental impact assessment process.

In mid 1990s and during the years 2009-2013, ELF carried out an inventory of Estonian mires and peat bogs with the aim to get an overview of the condition of the remaining mires and propose a list of areas that should be put under protection or where protection activities should be restructured. During the last 10 years, ELF has compiled recovery plans for several mires (i.e Kuresoo, Matkasoo, Soosaare mires). In 2014, an application was submitted to the European Commission´s LIFE Programme based on these activities, aiming to help restore approximately 6000 hectares of mires.