Expertise of Tallinn University, Center for Landscape and Culture, Estonian Institute of Humanities

Tallinn university is a research institute studying the spatio-temporal dynamics of landscapes and ecosystems, their diversity and responses to natural and man-made processes. The institute has three departments. Department of environmental studies with special focus on paleoecology and paleogeography, Dept of landscape ecology concentrates on the study of changes in the state and dynamics of landscapes and ecosystems with special attention on the coastal landscapes and mires; the North-East Estonian dept studies regional problems connected to oil-shale mining, especially restoration of the post-industrial landscapes.

In the field of environmental studies, the main research projects are connected with a study of principal regularities of ecosystem and landscape development under different exogenic factors, including climate and human impact during the Holocene. Pollen analysis together with charred particles and diatom analysis leads to an understanding of vegetation successions and their causes, the regularities of the changes in vegetation after natural fires, the inertness and restoration time. This type of investigations increased also interests to the problems connected with the establishment of pollen source area and detection of disturbances. Processes of sedimentation in lakes are studied using the sediment trapping together with modern pollen trapping.

The landscape ecology department one of the main fields of study has been the influence of different environmental and human factors on the formation and development of mires. Especial attention has been paid to the formation and role of bog microtopography, ecology of Sphagnum mosses, successions in plant communities and paleoecological reconstructions. Important are studies on peat accumulation and carbon budget of bogs. More important becomes evaluation of scientific base for the restoration of terminated peat cutting areas.

Studies are also active in insular and coastal landscapes, focuses on the dependence of biological diversity on the landscape pattern and changes in the human impact.

In the North-East of Estonia, our focus has been on studying the temporal and spatial variation of vegetation on the areas influenced by oil shale production and waste, and, more widely, natural and anthropogenic development of landscapes.

In recent years the Institute has been more and more focusing on the present-day landscapes as well. We have started both research and applied projects on cultural landscapes and achieving a working cooperation between different disciplines in landscape research is possible.