In the course of the project, the state will purchase 500 hectares of private land located in Natura 2000 sites from private owners in order to ensure the conservation of the natural assets they contain.
The purchase of land is carried out according to the procedure valid in Estonia: the purchase of land is prepared by the Environmental Board, coordinated by the Minister of the Environment and executed by the State Forest Management Centre (RMK), who also concludes a notarised purchase and sale contract with the landowner. Purchased land is managed by RMK. An overview of the land purchase process can be found here.
Purchase criteria are as follows:
- the minimum size of the property is 3 hectares;
- at least 90% of the land is a Natura 2000 site or will become a Natura 2000 site before the end of the project in 2029;
- at least 75% of the land is in the special management zone;
- the minimum proportion of woodland is 50%;
- the property has a forest habitat type or a place of growth of a forest species that is important for the conservation objectives of the Natura site;
- In the absence of a forest habitat type or species, the Environment Agency must examine the site and decide whether the site may become a forest habitat type over time or if it is necessary from a forest biota (species coherence) perspective.
By March 2023 15 plots of land with a total area of 164.5 hectares have been purchased. The total amount of the purchase transactions is 837,353 euros.
Of the 15 plots of land purchased, 2 are not located within a Natura site. For these sites, it has been proposed to merge them with existing Natura sites and this process is ongoing. This is a good example of how the project can contribute to the expansion of existing Natura sites.
A total of five million euros will be spent purchasing the lands.