The North-Estonian Coastal Plain

The North-Estonian Coastal Plain is the former basin of the Gulf of Finland, exposed by the retreat of water due to the land rise. The landscape district of the North-Estonian coastal plain and the islands of the Gulf of Finland constitute a long narrow strip extending from the Pakri Peninsula to the town of Narva. It is bordered on the south by the North-Estonian Klint and on the north by the preglacial depression of the Gulf of Finland.

The width of the coastal plain is highly variable, ranging from about 20 m to 20 km. It is widest in Lahemaa, where numerous peninsulas extend to a distance of 20 km from the klint. In some places, such as Pakri Peninsula and Udria, high water can fully cover the coastal plain, and the sea reaches the North-Estonian Klint.

The coastal plain rose above sea level only about 5000 years ago. Most of its sediments and relief forms are of marine origin. Wide areas, especially near the mouths of the rivers, are covered by marine sand. There are several beach ridges, bars and dunes. The strips of coastal formations, alternating with strips of mire, create peculiar streaky landscape patterns, e.g., on the Letipea Peninsula and near Pudisoo.

Cambrian clays and sandstones are exposed in the lower strata of the North-Estonian Klint and north of the Klint. The Cambrian clays have long been mined for the ceramics and cement industry on the Kopli Peninsula, in Tallinn, near Loksa, in Aseri and in Kunda. A prospective clay resource area has been established in the Kallavere deposit in Saviküla near Tallinn. The clay exposure near Sillamäe will be used for isolating the Sillamäe radioactive and toxic waste depository. The coastal plain includes two “islands” of Ordovician limestone — erosional remains of the Ordovician limestone plateau — Toompea in Tallinn and Lubjamägi in Viimsi, near Tallinn.

The North-Estonian Coastal Plain is rich in large erratic boulders and boulder fields. These boulders of crystalline rocks were brought by continental ice from Finland and Scandinavia, where these rocks were exposed on the Earth's surface. In Lahemaa National Park, extensive boulder fields can be seen near Tapurla in the Juminda Peninsula and near Käsmu village.

The salmon spawning areas
The North-Estonian rivers are important spawning areas of salmon and trout. The salmon population has declined during recent decades. Only the Vasalemma, Keila, Pirita, Rutja and, to a lesser extent, Loobu and Kunda Rivers are known as salmon spawning areas. The trout population is more numerous. Most of the North-Estonian rivers are noted for their trout spawning areas.

The klint forest and the crowberry heaths
About 65% of the North-Estonian Coastal Plain is covered by forest. The most extensive forests are met in Lahemaa. A large variety of forest types can be seen near Oandu, where they can be studied, while hiking along the nature trail. Pine forests are common in the eastern part of the coastal plain, growing on the marine sand and dunes between Meriküla and Narva-Jõesuu. Patches of a relic oak forest growing on dunes has been preserved near Kaberla.

The so-called klint forest on the talus of the North-Estonian Klint is very rich in species. Among the trees, lime, ash and rowan are very common and spruce somewhat common. The penny flower (Lunaria rediviva), common in beech forests of Central Europe, but rare in Estonia, is under protection.

Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) heaths are characteristic of Mohni Island and the small islands of Kolga Bay. These tundra-like plant communities are in sharp contrast with other plant cover.

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