Estonia is a small, heavily forested country situated on the Baltic Sea. It is a part of the Euro-Siberian region of terrestrial Palearctic realm, and the Temperate Northern Atlantic marine ecoregion.
Phytogeographically, Estonia is shared between the Central European and Eastern European provinces of the Circumboreal Region within the Boreal Kingdom. According to the WWF, the territory of Estonia belongs to the ecoregion of Sarmatic mixed forests.
Estonia's sparse population and large areas of forest have allowed stocks of European lynx, wild boar, brown bears, and moose to survive, among other animals. Estonia is thought to have a wolf population of around 200, which is considered slightly above the optimum range of 100 to 200. Estonian birdlife is characterized by rare seabirds like the Steller's eider (Polysticta stelleri), lesser white-fronted goose (Anser erythropus) and black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), wetland birds like the great snipe (Gallinago media), dry open country birds like the corn crake (Crex crex) and European roller (Coracias garrulus) and large birds of prey like the greater spotted eagle (Aquila clanga). Estonia has five national parks, including Lahemaa National Park on the northern coast as the largest. Soomaa National Park, between Pärnu and Viljandi, is known for its wetlands. Reserves such as Käina Bay Bird Reserve and Matsalu National Park (a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) are also popular with locals and tourists and support a wide variety of birdlife.
The largest bear populations can be found in north east Estonia in Ida-Viru County and Lääne-Viru County. The numbers of bears, lynx and wolves suffered during the Soviet Occupation as the animals were persecuted heavily. After they were given protection the numbers of the larger carnivores peaked in the early 1990s but they have since fallen slightly from those highs due to increased hunting pressure. In 2008, Estonia was home to approximately 620 brown bears, 760 lynx, and 135 wolves. As of early 2010, large ungulates included 48,040 roe deer (down from 63,000 in 2009), 11,741 European elk, 2,831 red deer, and 22,642 wild boars.
Its birdlife includes golden eagles and white storks. It has around a dozen national parks and protected areas, including Lahemaa National Park, the country's largest park, on the northern coast. Soomaa National Park, near Pärnu, is known for its ancient wetlands. Reserves such as Käina Bay Bird Reserve and Matsalu Nature Reserve (a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention) are also popular with locals and tourists and support a wide variety of birdlife.
The following table gives an overview of species numbers of selected invertebrate groups.
|Group||Known species||Estimated number of species|
- List of Estonian mammals
- List of birds of Estonia
- List of fish in Estonia
- List of Estonian butterflies
- List of Odonata species recorded in Estonia
- Spalding, M.D., et al. "Marine Ecoregions of the World: A Bioregionalization of Coastal and Shelf Areas". Bioscience Vol. 57 No. 7, July/August 2007
- "Systematic list of Estonian mammals". Archived from the original on 2007-11-07. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- "Laupäeval algab hundijaht" (in Estonian). 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
- (in Estonian)Keskkonnainfo: hunt Archived 2019-10-28 at the Wayback Machine
- Birds Of Estonia
- "status2". Archived from the original on 2007-10-10. Retrieved 2007-12-19.
- Birds Of Estonia, Checklist Of The Birds Of Estonia, Its Complete Birdlist
- Eesti Loodus (Ed. A. Raukas), Tallinn, Valgus & Eesti Entsüklopeediakirjastus 1995