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Viidumäe nature preserve PDF Prindi


Viidumäe is located on Saaremaa's highest point and, geologically speaking, its oldest place, Saaremaa's backbone which started rising from the sea about 10 000 years ago. The preserve is 7.5 kilometers long and 700 to 800 meters wide, and covers 7 873 hectares. At least 600 different species of plants can be found in the preserve.

Viidumäe's highest point is Suurmägi (Big Mountain), which rises to 54 meters above sea level. There is a watchtower on top, from where one can get a good view of the countryside. The administrative center is at Audaku, where there is a small botanical museum. In order to protect the many rare plant species here, it is forbidden to travel outside the marked roads without special permission.

Although the area is relatively small, very many different species of plants, mushrooms and animals can be found here. The area is divided into two separate zones. The higher areas are dryer, whereas the lower areas are boggier. Additionally, thanks to Saaremaa's softer maritime climate, many rare plants live here. For example, over 660 species of vascular plants and over 630 species of butterflies have been counted.

Almost 85% of Viidumäe is covered in forest. Various forest types are represented. The oak forest with pine undergrowth, the so-called Sutru forest, is considered to be a relic of the times when the climate here was much warmer.

Swamps and bogs cover about 10% of Viidumäe. This is where one can see robirohtu, a plant that was discovered here in 1933 and thus far has only been found on Saaremaa.

Meadows cover a relatively small area. Here on the meadows and in the broadleaf forests is where one can find Estonia's largest snail, the vinyard snail (edible!). Viidumäe wooded meadows are still mowed each summer, in an effort to maintain a piece of cultivated landscape that was at one time common thuout Saaremaa.

From 1904 to 1946 a leprosorium was operated at Audaku, which is now part of the Viidumäe area. A footnote to the history of Saaremaa is that at one time leprosy was farily common here.


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