Harju (Estonia)

Scenery and recreation in forest landscapes in Harju County, in Northern Estonia

© Aado Keskpaik

© Martin Küttim

© Martin Küttim

© Martin Küttim

© Martin Küttim

The case study region Harju County is located in Northern Estonia on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland. Its area is 4,338 km². Harju County is home to the capital of Estonia – Tallinn. The population of the county is 582 thousand, 432 thousand of the population lives in Tallinn. Suburbanization occurs in the area surrounding the capital. Almost 80% of the population lives in urban settlements. Population density in rural areas is rather low.

There was 73,900 ha (17% of the county territory) agricultural land in use in Harju County (2016). As estimated, about one quarter of arable land and permanent grassland was out of agricultural use. A reasonable part of former agricultural land has been used for developing new residential or industrial areas – especially in the vicinity of Tallinn. A large share of Harju County is covered by forest. 215,700 ha (50% of the county territory) is forest land (2016). The forest is among Estonia’s most important natural resources and a source of a considerable amount of raw material.

Harju County is a region where the vast majority of population has no personal connection with rural production but is quite sensitive about the recreational, esthetical and cultural heritage features of the rural and natural environment surrounding the settlements.

PG Scenery

A substantial part of forests in Harju County have achieved maturity and may go under cutting in the coming 10 years. We investigated the provision of the public goods of scenery and recreation by the forestry system in a context of high risk of large scale clear cutting deteriorating the living environment around densely populated settlements.

The importance of Harju County as recreational and vacation destination (partly also due to the vicinity of capital Tallinn) as well as living environment (development of new residential areas) has increased in the recent years and will probably continue to increase. At the same time, substantial part of forests in Harju County have achieved maturity and may go under cutting in the coming 10 years. The trend towards more effective and intensive forest management directs the forest owners to use mostly clear cutting. So there is an increasing conflict between the interests of forest managers and other stakeholders. The conflict can be mitigated by introducing governance mechanisms that:

  • encourage forest owners to actively deal with forest renewal and to use different types of cutting methods;
  • increase the influence of local government on directing of forest management

Contingent Valuation
Cost Accounting

Valuation of the estimated need for compensation (per hectare and total) in case of replacing clear cutting with shelterwood cutting in forest stand compartments. Read more…

Financial Incentives
Collaboration and Partnerships
Advisory and Information

The governance strategy investigated consists of four GMs as follows: Spatial planning, Agreements between private forest owners and local government; Financial relief scheme for the state-owned forest management; Technical assistance and information. Read more…

Stakeholder Portal

Stakeholder Portal

Here you find outcomes of the participatory workshops and material in national language.


Contact for case study region

  • Silja Lassur, Avatud akadeemia / Ühiskonnateaduste instituut, Tallinna Ülikool
    Narva mnt. 25, 10120 Tallinn
  • silja.lassur@tlu.ee