Below is some information from wiki about the wooded meadows in Estonia and also information about the Nedrema Wooded meadow. Also named wood-meadows, park meadows or forest meadows these ecosystems are in the temporal forest regions. They are sparse natural stands with a regularly mown herbaceous layers. While frequent throughout Europe during the Medieval period and before, wooded meadows have largely disappeared. Wooded meadows originated from the practices of hunter-gatherer communities. They were important in terms of social organization around a natural resource and determined much of the community’s interactions with the natural world. In the early 20th century, wooded meadows were used for fruit cultivation in Sweden, however their prevalence has decreased substantially due to changes in land management and a movement toward more intensive types of agroecosystems. The more typical, calcicolous wooded meadows are common around the Baltic Sea.Wooded meadows have high species richness. In some of the current Estonian wooded meadows, world record species densities have been recorded (up to 76 species of vascular plants per square meter)
Nedrema wooded meadow is one of the largest of its kind in Estonia and Europe. Owing to its large area and well-preserved canopy structure, the Nedrema meadow is among the most distinguished wooded meadows in Estonia. Because of its location between two bogs, Nedrema is quite moist and also has a more versatile terrain than other wooded grasslands in Estonia. 17 species of protected plants, of which 15 are orchids, and 4 rare species of mushrooms have been discovered in Nedrema. The area was listed as protected area in 1991 for the conservation of wooded meadows and designated a nature reserve in 2004. The total area of the reserve is 24km². Some more information can be found if you follow this link http://eunis.eea.europa.eu/habitats/10139
There is some more information about the wooded meadows if you click this link ENG_wooded_meadows_pastures
All in all even though it was later in the summer there were still quite a few flowering plants to see and being later we even encountered quite a few fungi species some very edible. The other bonus were the berries: bilberries , cranberries , cloudberries lingonberries, blueberries, wild strawberry and some others I have no idea what they were.
Mowing in the wooded hay meadow was a delight and it was a pleasure to work alongside two Portugese men from Altares, Azores, Ivan Santos and Joao Bulhoes, and have quite a laugh with them but also everyone else on the trip. It was also just as pleasurable to help those from Estonia who needed some tuition in mowing with a scythe and we also learnt a lot about the Estonian way of life which has a strong ethos of caring for nature.
Part of the long weekend was set aside for lectures on how to use the scythe and how to manage the wooded meadow. What we did find out was that most of these meadows were managed by mowing with machines, the green hay taken away and the work was funded by the EU. The only concern that we had was the removal of the green hay before the flowers, grasses and sedges had lost their seeds, however with so much mowing to do and with so few people this was the only method available for now and it had stopped the woodland from encroaching.
One reason why both Nigel and I were invited to go to Estonia was to teach the art of peening. Mostly it appeared that the Estonian scythes were sharpened using a hardened file that had been ground into a sort of knife. You actually used it like a drawknife and ripped off metal from the scythe edge, works a treat as the scythe blade is made of softer metal. However it wouldn’t take long to wear the blade out! So our main job was to show people how to peen as it would appear that this technique has been lost.
Accommodation was provided in the form of two tents- one not so good and one that wasn’t that bad at all. Trouble was who was going to get the best tent, me or Nigel? That would be telling, you’ll have to see the video below to find out.
Breakfast, lunch and supper were also provided but we all managed to supplement the stores with wild fungi and berries from the wood. Even had a superb bilberry pie one night.
As the nights drew in we were treated to some Estonian folk songs and a roaring camp fire to warm the soul. So ended a lovely excursion to the now rare northern latitude wooded meadows and the next trip is already planned for and booked.
This year the Estonian nature summer school will be held on the 20-23rd of July at the Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve, I have included some information about the reserve below.
Alam-Pedja Nature Reserve is the largest nature reserve in Estonia. It is a vast wilderness area which covers 342 km2 (85,000 acres) and consists of a complex of 5 large bogs separated by unregulated rivers, their floodplains, and extensive forests. The nature reserve aims to protect diverse ecosystems and rare species, mainly through preserving the natural development of forests and bogs and securing the continuing management of semi-natural floodplain grasslands.
Alam-Pedja is situated in Central Estonia northeast of Lake Võrtsjärv, in a lowland area called the Võrtsjärv Basin. It spans over three counties – Tartu, Jõgeva and Viljandi. The area has an especially low density of human population, comparable to that of wolf, bear and lynx. The nature reserve was established in 1994. It is recognized as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention and since 2004 it is a designated Natura 2000 site. The name Alam-Pedja, translating as Lower-Pedja, comes from the nature reserve’s location on the lower reaches of the Pedja River.
Thank you Nigel Adams for picking the long twig and thanks to Piret Väinsalu who organised the event in the Nedrema wooded meadow and all those who attended, a most excellent time was had. Oh, nearly forgot the competition, wonder who won? Check out the video to find out.