Asko Lõhmus is an ecologist with a broad horizon, whose main work consists of research on and the teaching of biodiversity and the sustainable use of nature. He is a professor of Conservation Biology and head of the chair of Natural Resources at the University of Tartu. In addition to nearly 200 research papers, he has actively promoted his field of expertise in writing, speaking and photography. He has received various awards, including the Estonian National Research Award for sustainable forestry research, the Estonian Nature Conservation Medal, the University of Tartu Medal, and the first Young Conservationist Award. In 2018, Postimees newspaper chose him as Person of the Year for his contribution to the social forest debate.

Ivika Ostonen works as a professor of root ecology at the University of Tartu and is a plant ecologist/ecophysiologist by background. Her research group focuses on processes in ecosystems below ground, plant root growth and functioning, their functional interactions with rhizosphere microbial communities, and adaptation mechanisms under different climatic and environmental conditions. Plant roots and their associated rhizobiome drive carbon and nutrient cycles in the soil, and understanding the feedback effect of environmental change on the balance of carbon and nutrient pools and fluxes is crucial for future climate change predictions. In 2014, she was awarded the National Research Award of Estonia for her contribution to the cycle of research on “Root Foraging Strategies for the Sustainability of Forests in the Changing Conditions of Climate and Land Use”, and in 2022 the University of Tartu awarded her the Badge of Distinction. Foto: A. Tennus

Jānis Ķuze is an ornithologist and nature conservationist at the Latvian Fund for Nature, whose main fields of interest are birds of prey (white-tailed and golden eagles) and nature restoration. Jānis has been involved in several of the largest restoration projects in Latvia for raised bogs, floodplain meadows, and re-meandering of rivers. He actively works on forest protection, establishing micro reserves – small protected sites on the breeding grounds of rare birds. About LIFE AQPOM project: http://mazaiserglis.lv/en/news

Renno Nellis is an ornithologist who has been working mostly on forest birds and raptors since 1990. He describes himself as an eagle man for whom forest and nature conservation is an important goal, as the value of old-growth forests has been increasingly neglected by society in recent decades. For the past four years, Renno has been working on Woodland Key Habitats (WKH) on state-owned land. He was in charge of carrying out a further inventory of WKHs at the Estonian Naturalist Society and will present the main results at the conference. Renno was awarded the Young Conservationist Award in 2012. Foto: M. Kooskora

Sebastian Kirppu is a forest biologist who has been working with nature conservation issues for the last 25 years. Mainly with doing inventories of old-growth forests and the diversity of endangered species and indicator species which are dependent on the old-growth forest ecosystem. He has during the years been giving courses to educate people about the boreal forest ecosystem and its endangered species, especially lichens and fungi. Sebastian has been working for the Swedish Forest Agency, different County Administrative boards in Sweden, Stora Enso, SCA, Sveaskog, Protect the Forest, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and Greenpeace. Sebastian has participated in different programs on Swedish radio and television talking about the forest. He has also been awarded for his work protecting old-growth forests by WWF, SSNC and he got the Sture Centerwall award by the Royal Academy of Science in Sweden in 2018.

Mart Kiis is an adviser in the Climate Department of the Ministry of the Environment and has been directly involved as an expert in the development of the revised EU climate policy framework in recent years. He was responsible for coordinating negotiations in several areas, including the effort-sharing regulation (ESR) and land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors. Mart Kiis holds a Master's Degree in Biology from the University of Tartu and his academic experience and interests have included several climate- and biodiversity-related projects.

Asko Noormets is a professor of ecology and conservation biology at Texas A&M University. His background is in plant ecophysiology, ecosystem biochemistry, and global change ecology. His current work focuses on soil carbon balance and plant carbon allocation in different ecosystems and in response to various management and land use changes. Understanding the interactive effects between environmental conditions like water and nutrient availability, atmospheric CO2 and other pollutants on ecosystem function will help develop management strategies that maximize ecosystem resilience, and ensure continued provisioning of ecosystem services that we depend on.

Annukka Valkeapää studied Finns’ attitudes towards forests in her PhD. Objection to clearcutting was a striking theme: 70% of Finns did not accept the method. Currently, she works for the Finnish Continuous Cover Forestry (CCF) Association Silva, being the executive director of the association. Valkeapää promotes change in commercial forest management towards an environmentally sound and socially more acceptable direction.


Natural forests are diverse spaces and states of being that sustain life. The two Finnish photographers Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo talk about their recent work concerning the last primeval forests in Finland. The Forest of the North Wind project depicts the rich ecosystems of the northern coniferous forests at their best. It also illustrates how forest habitats are becoming threatened and being lost.

Most of the photographs for the project were taken in protected areas near Finland’s eastern border, ranging from North Karelia to Lapland. Forests of the North Wind is the final part of a forest trilogy based on research through photographic art by Ritva Kovalainen (b. 1959) and Sanni Seppo (b. 1960), culminating their three decades of work on forest themes. The first two parts were Tree People (1997), an exploration of Finnish forest mythology, and Silvicultural Operations (2009), which highlighted the downsides of forestry.

Madis Katz is an artist-photographer and small forest owner. His home forests are in southern Estonia, and he tries to manage his time to be the local community spokesperson regarding areas of high public interest (KAH-alad). Madis basically just likes trees. Foto: T. Ugandi

Peeter Laurits is an Estonian artist whose main means of expression are photography and digital manipulations. In the nineties he turned to deep ecology, moved to the forest and founded the Kütioru Open Studio. In 2017, he was invited to become a visiting professor of liberal arts at the University of Tartu, and from 2021 he will curate the international research and art symposium Biotopia.

Marju Kõivupuu, PhD, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Landscape and Culture in the School of Humanities at Tallinn University. One of her research areas is human-nature (heritage-based) relations. She has been an advocate for the preservation and protection of sacred natural sites and rood trees and participates in the work of the National Animal Wolf Roundtable. Marju Kõivupuu has published numerous academic and popular science articles. She is a laureate of the Eerik Kumari Nature Conservation Award, and was chosen to be the author of the Year 2023 by the magazine “Estonian Nature”.

Liis Kuresoo has been working as a forest expert at the Estonian Fund for Nature for more than ten years. She holds a master's degree in natural resources management and conservation from the Estonian University of Life Sciences (cum laude). Liis has researched continuous cover forestry and the techniques in Estonia and other European countries. She is one of the authors of the book "A guide to continuous cover forestry". Liis works on expertise and advocacy issues on a daily basis and has been involved in Estonia's forestry development plan process for the past five years, but her favorite part of work is wandering around in forests and doing fieldwork. Liis has also led a variety of training workshops on continuous cover forestry, community forests, and forest values.  Photo: K.Liiv