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Soomaa National Park
 
Soomaa National Park

Soomaa (trans: Land of Mires) National Park in south-western Estonia, certainly lives up to its name. It is a large complex (400 km2) of five extensive bogs, located in the catchment of one of the longest rivers in the country - the Prnu River.


The waters here are extraordinary the numerous rivers meet in a rather small area between fens and swamp forests. Water from the nearby Sakala uplands can during the spring time melting or rain season unleash such an avalancehe of water that rivers break out of their banks. This almost Biblical flood happens every year around here Flood is the name of the fifth season. The spring time spectacle of the forces of nature in Soomaa is grandiose and a bit cruel - flooded area often supersceding hundred square kilometers. Water level in local rivers has been recorded to differ up to 6 meters during the dry and flood seasons. This also reflects in the local traditions even the barns have two storeys here, when the flood came animals were taken to the second floor. Very often the dugout canoe was the only means to get out of the house and that is why it has been preserved in many families living in the vicinity of the national park.

Soomaa was included in the important nature protection areas of Europe in 1997 becoming a CORINE biotope area. Since June 17, 1997 it is also in the RAMSAR list of international wetlands and in 1998 it was suggested that the Soomaa National Park should be included in the world natural heritage listed by UNESCO.


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