The Secretariat is pleased to announce that the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia has designated the Sookuninga Nature Reserve (5,869 hectares, 58°00'N 024°45'E), a Natura 2000 SPA and BirdLife International IBA, as its 12th Wetland of International Importance. Citing a Joint Commission set up in February 2006 between the Ministries of Environment of Estonia and Latvia on "Management of Nature Conservation in Transboundary Context", the two countries have established a Transboundary Ramsar Site, including Sookuninga and the Nigula Nature Reserve in Estonia and the Northern Bogs (Ziemelu purvi) Ramsar site in Latvia, with the name of North Livonian Transboundary Ramsar Site.
The Sookuninga NR, as described by Ramsar's Monica Zavagli based on the accompanying RIS information, is a complex of six different raised bog massifs with hummock and hollow complexes as well with numerous pools. The site supports rare, vulnerable and endangered species of birds and plants, some of them occurring in great numbers or densities. Highly endangered and strongly protected are Black Stork, Golden Eagle, Lesser-Spotted Eagle, Great-Spotted Eagle and Lagopus lagopus Willow Grouse. The site also supports populations of large mammals including Canis lupus Wolf, Lynx lynx Lynx, Ursus arctos Brown Bear and Alces alces Elk. The site plays an important role in the recharge and discharge of groundwater as well as maintenance of water quality in southwest Estonia and northwest Latvia. It also has a significant cultural and historical importance for its small-scale battlegrounds, burials, and war routes. Due to its remote location the area is sparsely inhabited, and the main uses are tied to forestry, berry and mushroom picking, and small-scale hunting - all at comparatively low intensities. [06/03/08]