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Grasslands of Läänemaa County, Estonia

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Chapter Summary

Transition from traditional agriculture to intensive land use during the last century has caused drastic changes in the landscape of most parts of Estonia. Large areas of species-rich communities of unfertilized grassland have been converted into productive species poor cultural grasslands or croplands. At the same time, grasslands in areas with lower productivity and located in the periphery of the country were abandoned and left to become overgrown. However, in Läänemaa County, in the western part of Estonia, this dualistic process has been less pronounced. Quite large areas of traditional landscapes and grassland communities have been maintained. Nowadays, the species-rich grasslands of Läänemaa County form more than one fifth of the total area that now survive in Estonia. In 1999-2000 an extensive study was carried out by the Estonian Seminatural Community Conservation Association to map the location and management status of the remaining semi-natural grassland communities in Läänemaa County.

Keywords: Estonia; Läänemaa County grasslands; species-rich communities



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