The Nigula Nature Reserve

The Nigula Nature Reserve is the first nature reserve created to protect mires in Estonia. The Nigula raised bog is a treeless raised bog of the western Estonian type; it has a relatively steep slope and flat central plateau. The slope can be best seen on the western edge of the mire system, where the surface of the bog rises up to 3 metres over a distance of a few tens of meters.

The pride of the Nigula mire system is five mineral islands in the raised bog, covered with old forest, which can be seen from far away over the raised bog, although the surface of these islands lies 1–1.5 meters lower than that of the bog itself. The higher parts of the islands are covered with broad-leafed forest rich in different plant species — a relic from the warm and wet Atlantic climate period that reigned here 5000–6000 years ago. The most prominent fauna group in the raised bogs are birds; changes in their numbers have been monitored here for decades. About 60 different bird species have been counted breeding on Salupeaksi, the mineral island with an area of 40 ha. The population density on the island is ten times larger than in the bog — more than 500 pairs of birds per square kilometre. There are numerous systems of bog hollows, which are the least accessible areas in the Nigula raised bog. The most difficult to cross are the areas of mud hollows, or quagmires — the peat mud, emitting swamp gases, does not offer any purchase for the traveller's feet.

Since 1965 cranberries have been cultivated at Nigula and research has been carried out. A Nigula collection — the gene pool of different forms of Estonian cranberries, has been formed. The Nigula rehabilitation centre for wild animals, created in 1996, is well known. The rehabilitation centre works on treating illnesses of wild animals, and helps them to rehabilitate in the wilderness after having been treated. A nature study path has been laid at the nature reserve, including a 6.8-kilometer-long boarded walk.

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