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Location Estonia, Tartu County
Central coordinates 27o 19.00' East  58o 23.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C2, C6
Area 32,977 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2003

Eesti Ornitiliigiaühing (EOÜ)

Site description A large wetland complex in eastern Estonia, comprising lakes, rivers, fens, transition mires, bogs, forest and flood-plain meadows. Major land-uses are fishing and forestry.

Key Biodiversity The area supports a good diversity of breeding waterbirds, including several species of global conservation concern, and is an important staging area for migratory wildfowl. Breeding species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Crex crex (min. 10 pairs), Gallinago media (10 pairs). Significant proportion (³1%) of national population breeding at site: Porzana porzana (min. 75 pairs), Grus grus (min. 10 pairs).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Black Grouse Lyrurus tetrix breeding  2000-2001  200-300 breeding pairs  unknown  C6  Least Concern 
Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus passage  1990-1999  200-800 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C2  Least Concern 
Smew Mergellus albellus passage  1996-1999  250-550 individuals  medium  B1i, C2  Least Concern 
Eurasian Bittern Botaurus stellaris breeding  1990-1999  10 breeding pairs  poor  C6  Least Concern 
White-tailed Sea-eagle Haliaeetus albicilla breeding  2000  8-10 breeding pairs  unknown  A1, C1, C6  Least Concern 
Western Marsh-harrier Circus aeruginosus breeding  1990-1999  10-15 breeding pairs  poor  C6  Least Concern 
Spotted Crake Porzana porzana breeding  1990-1999  75 breeding pairs  poor  C6  Least Concern 
Osprey Pandion haliaetus breeding  2000  4 breeding pairs  unknown  C6  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Emaj Limited Management Zone 11,311 protected area overlaps with site 9,791  
Emajõ e Suursoo Mire Landscape Reserve 21,030 protected area contained by site 18,131  
Emajoe Suursoo Mire and Piirissaar Island Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 32,600 protected area overlaps with site 18,890  
Piirissaare Landscape Reserve 672 protected area contained by site 755  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Wetlands (inland) Fens, transition mires and springs; Raised bogs; Rivers and streams; Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  72%
Forest Broadleaved deciduous woodland; Mixed woodland; Native coniferous woodland  16%
Shrubland   11%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
fisheries/aquaculture 30%
forestry 5%
nature conservation and research 97%
hunting -
tourism/recreation -
agriculture 1%

Protection status National Partial International High21,030 ha of IBA covered by Protected Landscape (Emajõe Suursoo Mire, 21,030 ha). 672 ha of IBA covered by Protected Landscape (Piirissaare, 672 ha). 31,980 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Emajõe-Suursoo Mire and Piirissaar Island, 32,600 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Mouth of the Emajõgi river and Piirissaar island. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife