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Location Estonia, Saare County
Central coordinates 21o 54.00' East  58o 21.00' North
IBA criteria A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C2, C3, C6
Area 18,214 ha
Altitude 0 - 9m
Year of IBA assessment 2003

Eesti Ornitiliigiaühing (EOÜ)

Site description A large complex of shallow (<5 m) bays on the western coast of Saaremaa island, with many small islets and some lakes. Vegetation includes reedbeds, coastal meadows, and forest. The main land-uses are nature-conservation projects and research, and grazing of cattle and sheep.

Key Biodiversity Vilsandi archipelago is an important breeding, staging and wintering area for waterbirds, especially wildfowl, and notably Polysticta stelleri in winter. Significant proportion (³1%) of national population breeding at site: Larus canus (400 pairs), Sterna caspia (3-4 pairs).

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Steller's Eider Polysticta stelleri winter  1996-2000  1,500-2,500 individuals  good  A1, A4i, B1i, C1, C3  Vulnerable 
Greylag Goose Anser anser passage  1990-1999  600-2,000 individuals  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Greylag Goose Anser anser breeding  1996  100-150 breeding pairs  good  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis passage  1991-1999  5,300-7,600 individuals  good  A4i, B1i, C2  Least Concern 
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis breeding  1995-1998  33 breeding pairs  good  C2, C6  Least Concern 
Mute Swan Cygnus olor passage  1990-1999  3,500 individuals  medium  A4i, B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Greater Scaup Aythya marila passage  1990-1999  3,100 individuals  medium  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula passage  1990-1999  3,000 individuals  unknown  B1i, C3  Least Concern 
Common Crane Grus grus passage  1990-1999  900 individuals  medium  B1i, C2  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
P Species Protection Site 63 protected area contained by site 63  
Vilsandi National Park Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 24,100 protected area contains site 18,214  
Vilsandi rahvuspark National Park 23,760 protected area contains site 18,214  
West Estonian Archipelago UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 1,560,000 protected area contains site 18,214  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Broadleaved deciduous woodland; Mixed woodland; Native coniferous woodland  12%
Grassland   3%
Wetlands (inland)   5%
Sea   67%
Artificial - terrestrial   4%
Shrubland   9%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
nature conservation and research 100%
agriculture 5%
forestry 10%
fisheries/aquaculture 65%
tourism/recreation -

Protection status National High International High18,230 ha of IBA covered by National Park (Vilsandi, 23,756 ha). 18,230 ha of IBA covered by Ramsar Site (Vilsandi National Park, 24,100 ha). 18,230 ha of IBA covered by Biosphere Reserve (West Estonian Archipelago, 1,560,000 ha).

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Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Vilsandi archipelago. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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