How are the species and habitats under monitoring chosen?

The purpose of monitoring is to provide information on changes in the state of the environment in Estonia.

The objective of wildlife monitoring is to determine:

  • the changes in species abundance and distribution and in communities;
  • the impact of land use on biodiversity (such as the impact of the increasingly intense agricultural activity on insects or birds).

The purpose of monitoring species and habitats is to collect information on Estonian species, their populations and communities, and to provide assessments of changes in the state of the environment in Estonia. Based on the status assessments, decision-makers can base the decisions that affect the environment on scientific info.


In order to preserve the native values and diversity of Estonian nature, several endangered and protected species (for example, the flying squirrel) as well as species and groups of species hinting at changes in the state of the environment (for example, pollinators) have been selected for monitoring. Species treated as managed natural resources (game) are also monitored. Continuous monitoring of these species makes it possible to assess the effectiveness of nature conservation measures, the state of the environment in general, and to set hunting limits necessary for the survival and abundance control of viable populations.

GLADIOLUS IMBRICATUS. A rare species is also often an indicator of the state of the environment in general or of possible other values of biodiversity. By: Karl Adami


Monitored species include endangered and rare plant species, protected fungal species, invertebrates, amphibians and reptiles, mammals and birds. For example, monitored mammals include large carnivores (bear, wolf, lynx), ungulates (such as the moose), seals, otters, beavers, the flying squirrel, bats and the European mink.


Among habitats and landscapes, endangered communities (such as coastal meadows and coastal communities) and changes in land use intensity, structure, and ecological status are monitored.


Monitoring data for species and habitats are the basis for reports and status assessments of commitments made under international agreements and on compliance with the objectives of the European Union’s Habitats and Birds Directives.


The selection of objects to be monitored is based, among other things, on the principle of economic efficiency: consideration is given to whether financial and technical resources are available to monitor a particular species or habitat. The principle of complexity is also important – such objects are selected for which the collected data set allows organising the protection of the species as well as provides information to describe the changes taking place in the environment [1].


A list of all wildlife monitoring sub-programmes (species and habitats that are monitored) can be found in the environmental monitoring database KESE.


A StoryMap of wildlife monitoring has also been compiled, which provides introductions to methodologies and monitoring results.



Last modified: 05.03.2024