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Location Estonia, Saare County
Central coordinates 21o 54.00' East  58o 15.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, B1i, C2, C6
Area 2,687 ha
Year of IBA assessment 2003

Eesti Ornitiliigiaühing (EOÜ)

Site description A complex of shallow (<4 m) sea bays and small islets on the west coast of Saaremaa island, with vast coastal meadows, reedbeds, saltmarshes and shallow lakes. The main economic activities are fishing, and grazing of sheep and cattle.

Key Biodiversity The most important staging area for migrating Branta leucopsis in Estonia.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis passage  1991-1999  4,300-9,000 individuals  unknown  A4i, B1i, C2  Least Concern 
Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta breeding  2001  6-30 breeding pairs  unknown  C6  Least Concern 

Protected areas

Protected area Designation Area (ha) Relationship with IBA Overlap with IBA (ha)  
Karala-Pilguse hoiuala Limited Management Zone 2,495 protected area contained by site 2,495  
Pilguse p Species Protection Site 25 protected area contained by site 25  
Pussa p Species Protection Site 84 protected area contained by site 84  
Vilsandi National Park Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar) 24,100 protected area overlaps with site 66  
Vilsandi rahvuspark National Park 23,760 protected area overlaps with site 66  
West Estonian Archipelago UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve 1,560,000 protected area contains site 2,687  


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest Mixed woodland; Native coniferous woodland  9%
Wetlands (inland) Standing freshwater; Water fringe vegetation  14%
Sea   51%
Artificial - terrestrial Arable land  2%
Grassland   14%
Shrubland   9%

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
agriculture 15%
fisheries/aquaculture 50%
forestry 10%
nature conservation and research 95%
hunting -
tourism/recreation -

Protection status National Low International High50 ha of IBA covered by National Park (Vilsandi, 16,657 ha). 3,114 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: Karala-Pilguse. Downloaded from on 26/10/2016

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