Meadows, of grasslands

The natural values of meadows, or heritage communities, can only be preserved by human intervention


Heritage meadows, also called semi-natural communities or heritage communities, are grasslands that have traditionally been used as pastures or hayfields. The biota of the heritage meadows is natural – the heritage meadows have not been ploughed, fertilised, and no seeds of cultivated plants have been sown to them, as far as is known. Heritage communities play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity, as they provide habitats and feeding grounds for many rare animal and plant species. For example, from the Laelatu wooded meadow, 76 plant species have been described growing on 1 m2, which may be the largest amount ever counted in the world [1]. Therefore, maintaining the favourable condition of heritage meadows is important both in Estonia and in Europe.


The main communities in Estonia are:

  • wooded meadows;
  • alvars;
  • coastal meadows;
  • flooded meadows;
  • grasslands on mineral soil;
  • paludified meadows; 
  • wooded pastures.

The natural values of semi-natural communities can only be preserved by human intervention. In order to maintain or increase species richness, the areas must be constantly maintained – mowed and grazed. Without maintenance, semi-natural communities overgrow, grow shrubs, turn into reed beds, and their species composition changes and decreases.


Based on the type of formation, a distinction is made between primary and secondary grassland communities. Primary grasslands are created on the coasts and islets freed from the sea (coastal meadows) due to land rising or remain unforested due to flooding (some floodplain meadows) or the dryness of the habitat (some alvar meadows). Secondary grasslands have been created in the place of former forests as a result of human economic activities.



Last modified: 10.11.2021