Nature conservation statistics

As at 31 December 2022, a total of 23% of Estonia’s area, including both land and waters, is under protection


The area of protected areas in Estonia increased significantly in 2004, when the Natura 2000 network was established. As a result, the share of protected areas increased from 11% to 17% of land and then continued to increase gradually. The area of protected areas in the territorial sea also increased significantly – in the early 2000s, the share was 3% of the territorial sea, where after the creation of the Natura 2000 network, the share of the area of the protected sea areas rose to close to 27% (excluding the exclusive economic zone) [1].


As at the end of 2021, 19.6% of Estonian land areas (incl. inland waters, except Lake Võrtsjärv and Lake Peipsi) are under protection. 44% of large lakes are under protection. The share of the territorial sea under protection is 27,2%; if the exclusive economic zone is taken into account, the share of protected territorial sea is 18.7%. In total, together with land and waters, 23% of Estonia’s area is under protection. Slightly more than 75% of Estonia’s nearly 4,000 kilometres of coastline is under protection [1].


The EU's biodiversity strategy for 2030 sets the following targets: a minimum of 30% of the EU's land areas (including inland waters) and 30% of the EU sea area are legally protected. According to the Environmental Agency, 20.7% of the land area and 18.7% of the sea area (including the economic zone) are under protection in Estonia.


In terms of counties, the share of areas under protection in 2022 was the largest in Lääne County (29%), Pärnu County (27,5%), and Hiiu County (23,7%). Põlva County (8,4%) and Jõgeva County (14,2%) have the fewest protected areas.


Area of the protected territory by counties as of 31 December 2022. Source: Environment Agency

County Change in the protected territory (ha) compared to 2021 Area of the protected territory (ha) Percentage of the area of the county
Harju county 970↑ 88291 20,4
Hiiu county 182↑ 24500 23,7
Ida-Viru county 645↑ 63600 21,4
Jõgeva county 217↑ 36193 14,2
Järva county 386↑ 38908 14,5
Lääne county 227↑ 52665 29,0
Lääne-Virumaa county 508↑ 62624 16,9
Põlva county 232↑ 15339 8,4
Pärnu county 1025↑ 149129 27,5
Rapla county 355↑ 56012 20,3
Saare county 457↑ 56280 19,2
Tartu county 286↑ 62269 18,6
Valga county 833↑ 41633 21,7
Viljandi county 202↑ 58525 17,1
Võru county 216↑ 47975 17,3
Total land 6741↑ 853942 19,6


Further information:


Area of protected territory in Estonia by years:



Last modified: 15.02.2023




[1] R. Roasto jt. Eesti looduse kaitse aastal 2020. Tallinn: Keskkonnaagentuur, 2020