Those arriving to Estonia by plane on a clear day, may soon notice whilst peering from the window the rugged outlines of the local terrain. While Estonia has always been a forested country, the last half a century has seen those forests increase in size, today covering about 50% of the country's territory, 30% of which is currently under protection.
The forest has historically fed and offered shelter to Estonians, whose roots are deeply embedded in the nature's soil. While many Estonians today lead a busy suburban lifestyle, they continue to seek the forest as a place to rest and reinvigorate the body and the mind. Forest is recognised as a recurring theme in Estonian folklore, inspiring storytellers and painters that have produced beautiful landscapes now displayed in KUMU art museum. The largest forests can be found in northeastern and central Estonia, stretching from as far as the north coast to the southern border with pine, birch, spruce and aspen being the most common tree species. Estonian forests are home to a surprising variety of wildlife – seeing a hare, fox or deer is common, but you can consider yourself extremely lucky if you get a glimpse of a wolf, lynx, bear or an elk. Rarer still are the European mink, dormouse and flying squirrel, which are unfortunately close to extinction.