Excursions: 29 June 2017

Trip 1. Free Air Humidity (FAHM) experimental site – SMEAR station – Järvselja Nature Reserve – Uniküla
The Free Air Humidity Manipulation (FAHM) research facility was established in Estonia in 2006-2007 to elucidate the functional consequences of climate change on the growth and functioning of forest ecosystems.  The impact of elevated humidity is being studied in stands with different degrees of functional complexity and on the processes within these ecosystems (water, carbon and nitrogen cycles, productivity, changes in species composition, etc.). The main tree species in FAHM are silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) and monoclonal hybrid aspen (Populus tremula L. × P. tremuloides Michx.), that are additionally manipulated by two different types of understory – forest and pasture. The next stop will be at the SMEAR Estonia - Station for Measuring Ecosystem-Atmosphere Relation.

We will also visit the Järvselja Nature Reserve in south-eastern Estonia, which contains primeval mature herb-rich forests. The forest has been under strict protection since 1924, and has had almost no human impact throughout the history. The tree layer consists of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H. Karst.) and deciduous tree species (most commonly Acer platanoides L., Populus tremula L., Tilia cordata Mill.). During the walk in the reserve, the forest management strategies in Estonia and sustainable forestry practices will also be introduced.

People will be divided in 2 groups, of which one group will walk ca 3 km and the other group ca 5 km - your choice! In case of bad weather, bus transport is provided.

We will end our trip at the Uniküla forest experimental site, where the impact of clear-felling on forest biogeochemical cycle is studied.

  • Leaders: Krista Lõhmus (FAHM), Steffen M Noe (SMEAR), Jürgen Aosaar and Mats Varik (Järvselja natural forest), Veiko Uri and Mai Kukumägi (Uniküla forest site)
  • Participants: max 50
  • Requirements: At the field sites, ticks and mosquitos can potentially be active, so we recommend wearing long trousers.
  • Buses depart in front of Vanemuise 46, 9:00 a.m. Please gather around 8:45 a.m.
  • Return: around 5-5:30 p.m.
  • Cost: 40 Euro (warm lunch is offered at Järvselja hunting manor, bottled water is handed out throughout the day)

Trip 2. Soontaga forest station – Meenikunno hiking trail – Giants of Ootsipalu Valley

During this excursion we will first visit the Soontaga forest station that is located in a 200-year-old hemi-boreal pine forest with a second layer of spruce in Southern Estonia. The station has the instrumentation to assess the exchange of carbon dioxide (net ecosystem exchange, NEE), soil respiration, tree biomass (above and below ground biomass) and different environmental and meteorological parameters. You will be introduced studies about forest’s carbon and nitrogen budgets; in particular the role of fine root research and data in ecosystem studies and in total C budgets. The bravest have the opportunity to climb up the eddy tower.

Next we will visit the Meenikunno hiking trail, that is situated in the Meenikunno landscape protection area. It is a fascinating trail for nature enthusiasts - hikers, berry-pickers, bird-watchers, etc. The 5.8 km circular hiking trail runs on 2.4 km easily passable boardwalk through the Meenikunno bog and on 3.4 km forest path. There are 13 information points introducing the bog and forest along the trail. There is also an observation tower in the end of the boardwalk. With warm weather swimming and skinny dipping is popular in the bog lake. 
You have the possibility to walk through the whole hiking trail or only partly on the bog boardwalk.

The tour will finish with visiting Ootsipalu valley in Põlva County. Many grand and magnificent trees grow in Ootsipalu valley, but two of them are particularly worthy of attention. These are the tallest spruce and the tallest pine in Estonia – 48.6 and 46.6 metres tall, respectively. The giant trees that stand quite close to one another are more than 200 years old. As of the beginning of the year 2016, the pine-tree is the tallest Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) in the world. According to State Forest Management Centre specialists and researchers from the Estonian University of Life Sciences, one reason why so many record-high trees grow in one place in Põlva County is that the trees are on a hollow surface, partly on the slope, partly in the depression. This guarantees natural protection against strong wind and storms, and accumulation of rainwater and nutrients in the bottom of the hollow, so the trees have sufficient water and nutrient supply.

  • Leaders: Kaido SoosaarIvika Ostonen and Alar Läänelaid
  • Participants: max 50
  • Requirements: At the field sites, ticks can potentially be active, so we recommend wearing long trousers.
  • Buses depart in front of Vanemuise 46, 9:00 a.m. Please gather around 8:45 a.m.
  • Return: around 6-6:30 p.m.
  • Cost: 40 Euro (warm lunch is offered in Võru, snacks and drinks are offered during Meenikunno hike, bottled water is handed out throughout the day)

Trip 3. Tartu city tour -CANCELLED-

The sightseeing tour will make you acquainted with the main attractions in Tartu. You will see the historical Town Hall Square with its mainly 19th century neo-classical buildings and cozy cafes with the view on the Emajõgi River, the Kissing Students fountain and the ’leaning house’ (the so-called Pisa tower). We will visit the Main Building of the University of Tartu, that is one of the pearls of the city. During the walk on Toome Hill, you’ll find the historical ruins of Tartu Cathedral, which houses the University of Tartu Museum, as well as the Old Obervatory and the Devil’s and Angel’s Bridges. This unique architectural ensemble has also earned the European Heritage label. 

After the walk in the city center we will visit the Estonian National Museum - the most modern museum in Scandinavia. A tour guide will narrate you intresting facts and stories about the history of the Estonians and the Finno-Ugric people. Afterwards you have the opportunity to discover the museum on your own.