Saaremaa municipality coastline

Saaremaa municipality is making a comprehensive plan where the development of coastal area is a major part. At first 3 small municipalities from Saaremaa island were part of the Coast4us project application, but in Estonia a state reform was carried out and the whole Saaremaa became one big municipality, so the pilot area changed to cover the whole island instead of initial 3 small areas on the island. Sustainable development seeks to achieve a balance between the social, economic and environmental spheres and ensure a fulfilling social life for present and future generations.

There are several challenges when creating such a plan:


1. Spatial

The functional zoning is to find acceptable location for different coastline users e.g. fishermen, surfers, access roads to the shoreline and public access to the sandy beaches.


2. Building exclusion zone

When creating new areas in Estonian coastline, the building of exclusion zones is applied. This means that in Saaremaa, it is 200 metres from the waterfront. Sometimes, where there is a slanting coastline, it is even up to 500 metres. The challenge though, is that often most people would like to build right at the coastline. Therefore this is a main target of discussion and cooperation with TalTech and the Environmental board of Republic of Estonia. As an example, Saaremaa municipality is using TalTech expertise to carry out modelling of coastal zone flooding areas. It is taking into account potential scenarios of water level rise in the future, which gives good input for planners to make proposals for changes in the building exclusion zone. Including TalTech experts with their marine environment knowledge in planning process of comprehensive plan and also using their input in maritime spatial plan incorporation.


3. Incorporate the national strategy

Finding a common ground with national Maritime Spatial plan.


4. Improve (inclusive) planning culture

Until a 1991 Estonia had a top-down spatial practice. The inclusive planning process is still something incomprehensible that is under process of improvement.



In the pilot area we would like to develop:

  • a coastline hiking trail
  • ways to work with a sensitive zone planning, which involves children in the planning stage and offers student workshops
  • A sustainable comprehensive plan which virtually includes all spheres of life.

Pilot area Sareemaa.
Source: Topographic Webmap LM © Lantmäteriet, Länsstyrelsen Östergötland


children exhibition, about Saaremaa coastline and comprehensive plan, Kuressaare, 300 Saaremaa students invold making exhibition

Minister of Finance and politicians meeting, about Saaremaa coastline and comprehensive plan, Kuressaare, 30 participants

Aqua cultura developer meeting, about coastline and comprehensive plan dialog, Kuressaare, 8 participants

Watersport and harbour representatives, coastline zoning plan discussion, Kuressaare, 12 participants

Taltech architecture students case study, course task – Saaremaa coastline planning, allover Saaremaa coastline, 16 participants

idea collection map, asking ideas for coastline and comprehensive plan, at the present time over 120 idea

Taltech architecture students, course work presentation, Tallinn

June 2019
Republic of Estonia Environmental board meeting, Kuressaare, participants aprox. 10 people, mostly different authority personnel

Comprehensive plan and coastline sketch presentation at public meetings, 1 in Kuressaare, 1 in Orissaare, expected participants together at meetings about 50 persons


Activities monthly

Jan-Dec 2018 – gathering existing map layers and preparing new comprehensive plan layers based on new knowledge of public needs and taking into account public wishes
May 2019 – water level modelling, new GIS layers of water level rise in the future
June-July 2019 – collecting data for modelling Väikese Väina dam opening proposals
September 2019 – modelling of Väikese Väina dam opening
September – October 2019 – modelling of possible aquaculture development nutrient load input to coastal waters

Back to pilot areas.

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