The 11,530 ha Soomaa Wilderness is embedded into the Soomaa National Park, located in the south-eastern corner of Estonia. The Soomaa National Park, situated in Transitional Estonia, was created to protect large pristine raised bogs, flood plain grasslands, wet forests and meandering rivers. Soomaa Wilderness consist of four large peat-bogs: Kuresoo, Valgeraba, Ordi and Kikerpera. The bogs are separated from each other by the Pärnu, Halliste, Navesti, Raudna, Lemmjõgi, and Kõpu rivers. Alongside these rivers, floodplain meadows and floodplain forests occur.
Soomaa Wilderness is the most valuable part of the remaining extensive peat-bog Wilderness in south-west Estonia. Kuresoo Bog is one of the two best surviving large bogs in Estonia with high species diversity. The Soomaa Wilderness is a Ramsar site of protected wetland. Soomaa Wilderness is known for having five unique seasons, the fifth season being the high-water season. The waters here are extraordinary. A number of local rivers from surrounding uplands, meet in a relatively small area between the bogs and swamp forests. Once or twice a year, when the snow melts across the country, the rivers fill with melting water and break their banks.
European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit System
The 11,530 ha Soomaa Wilderness was audited in 2009 and 2011 and meets the Platinum Wilderness Quality Standard. A European Wilderness Quality Standard Renewal-Audit is scheduled for 2021.
- Protected area: Soomaa National Park
- Wilderness: Soomaa Wilderness
- Wilderness Quality Standard: Platinum
- Country: Estonia
- Size of the protected area: 39,640 ha
- Size of the Wilderness: 11,530 ha
- European Wilderness Quality Standard Audit: 2011
- Wilderness Uniqueness: Large active raised peat-bogs, wetlands and alluvial forests
- Number of visitors per year to the protected area: approx. 50,000
- Number of visitors per year to the Wilderness: approx. 15,000
Soomaa Wilderness is an extensive Wilderness, containing large peat-bogs and thick forests interlace by numerous rivers and the floodplains that border them. The Soomaa Wilderness is Soomaa Wilderness is an extensive Wilderness, containing large peat-bogs and thick forests interlace by numerous rivers and the floodplains that border them. The Soomaa Wilderness is a home and breeding area for several mammals that are extinct or very rare in other parts of Europe. The most numerous species of the large mammals are the roe deer, elk, and wild boar. Beaver, lynx, wolf, and bear are found in Soomaa Wilderness as well. The alluvial meadows and forests that cover the riverbanks are of great botanical value. Approximately 200 species have been recorded, including gladiolus, iris, and sedum. The unique swamp forests (carrs) surrounding the bogs are also full of rare and threatened species.
Wilderness Tourism Experience
Soomaa National Park and particularly Soomaa Wilderness are offering a unique experience. It’s a good place to be if you enjoy bird watching as 185 species of birds have been recorded in Soomaa. Among rare and endangered species, the most impressive species are the black grouse, the willow grouse, the golden eagle, the black stork, the lesser spotted eagle and the great snipe. In the edges of the bogs, capercaillie breed and further into the forest, the nature in Soomaa National Park offers home for several woodpecker species, owls and many others. During migration season the bogs are a staging site for geese and swans. Visitor birdwatching programmes are regularly combined with canoeing and bog walking trips with services offered by local partners.