Keep an eye out for frogs on the roads!

The State Nature Conservation Centre in association with the Põhjakonn non-profit organisation and the Road Administration will be launching a project on 1 April titled “Frogs on the Road” for caring people to help them chart areas in Estonia where frogs’ migratory routes cross highways.

“We want to identify the areas where the frogs are crossing the roads and, by the end of the project, have designated the places where the Road Administration is going to have to plan special tunnels under the road through which the frogs will be able to move safely,” explains Ivar Ojaste, a chief specialist in species conservation with the State Nature Conservation Centre.

 

In spring frogs migrate to their spawning grounds and in autumn to their winter hibernation sites along routes that have become fixed over time. Studies undertaken in the Netherlands have revealed that even on roads where there are only ten vehicles an hour, every third frog can die during the peak migration season. When traffic volume reaches as high as 60 vehicles an hour, up to 95% of migrating frogs perish.

 

“And that makes traffic one of the greatest risk factors for frog populations,” says Ojaste. “Tunnels though would provide a safe crossing not only for frogs, but also insects, spiders, snakes, lizards, hedgehogs and mice.”

 

The State Nature Conservation Centre, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of the Environment, is asking people who see frogs crossing roads to inform them of the location. You can call the Põhjakonn organisation on +372 51 900 903. The line is open 24 hours a day in April and May and September and October, which is the most active migratory period for frogs.

 

When you call…

*…identify in as much detail as possible the location of the frog crossing (which section of the highway, the name of the nearest bus stop, the closest village, the coordinates on a map, etc.)

*…give an approximation of the number of migrating/dead animals (as a whole, in tens or individuals)

 

In order to avoid running over the animals, slow down as soon as you see any.

 

The frog project is being funded by the Environmental Investment Centre.

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

Economy grew by 11.4 percent in 2006

The Estonian economy grew by 10.9 percent in the last quarter of 2006, bringing annual growth to a total of 11.4 percent. The rate of economic growth was one of the most rapid in the European Union, second only to Latvia’s 11.9 percent. The average of all of the member states for the year was 2.9 percent.Much of the reason for this growth was internal demand, with dramatic increases in individual consumption and investment. Consumption expenditure in current prices reached 104.3 billion kroons, representing real growth of a record 15.8 percent. The greatest contributing factor here was the rise in average salaries and employment, but strong borrowing continued to play a significant part. Furthermore, the number of consumer loans in 2006 almost doubled on the previous year, and the balance of home loans grew to more than 60 percent. Rapid growth in borrowing enables consumption to be quickly raised to the kind of stable level which will take expected income into account in future. Growth in loans could already be seen to be stabilising by the end of 2006, which indicates that consumption will grow at a comparable rate to real growth in salaries in the longer term.

Growth in investment during the first earlier quarters of 2006 was mostly due to companies, and the remarkable rise in the fourth quarter is also likely to have been caused by businesses making high-volume capital investments in the closed sector. These investments will contribute greatly to economic growth in the short term, but in order to maintain this growth more capital needs to be directed to the manufacturing sector, which comes with high added value and is oriented towards exports.

The role of exports in economic growth decreased in 2006 by half due to the significant slowing of export growth in the second half of the year. This was due to problems with competitiveness, as growth in foreign demand actually increased. The volume of exports of a number of mainly labour-intensive goods groups fell or growth in volume slowed significantly. Growth in imports slowed only marginally due to the slowing of the growth in exports, as the subcontracting industry required less production input. Imports continued to be fed by significantly strengthened internal demand. The goods groups that made the greatest contribution to import growth were mineral products and means of transport. Growth in the import of services slowed significantly due to reduced growth in transport services and a fall in outsourcing of building services.

Growth in added value accelerated in 2006 in both the service and industrial sectors. The field that made the greatest contribution to economic growth was the processing industry, whose growth reached 12.8 percent. The branches of industry that most supported growth were the manufacturing of building materials, metal, rubber and plastic products, foodstuffs and beverages and electrical machinery and appliances.

Growth in the service sector was most greatly influenced by internal commerce, real estate, research and business activities, transportation, storage and communications and financial intermediation, which produced 80 percent of the growth in added value in services in 2000 constant prices. Contributing to the 12.6 percent growth in internal commerce were increased sales volumes and the rise in productivity in both wholesale and retail trading. The 9.7 percent growth in real estate, research and business activities was supported by the continued rapid rise in activity on the real estate market. The 10.9 percent growth in transportation, storage and communications was influenced by increased transport volumes and rapid developments in logistics and warehousing. The 22.8 percent growth in financial intermediation was due to active borrowing and leasing activities and the increased efficiency of intermediation itself. The building sector also made a significant contribution to growth, although real growth in its added value slowed to 13.3 percent as a result of acceleration in the rise of costs.
 
The Ministry of Finance expects to see a reduction in the rate of economic growth in 2007, but due to a certain inertia it is unlikely to decrease rapidly. Economic activity remained high at the beginning of the year, hinting at continued rapid growth – as confirmed by security indicators among consumers and the business sector, the development indicators for branches of the economy and state budget revenue received.

This press release is based on data from Eurostat, the Statistical Office, the Estonian Institute of Economic Research and the Bank of Estonia.
Source: Ministry of Finance

Estonia has 15 significant flood risk regions

A study commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment has mapped 15 regions in the country that are at significant risk of flooding. Measures to reduce these risks have begun to be developed.

“The Ministry of the Environment’s study revealed that the greatest risk of flooding is connected to the bad state of barriers and similar structures,” explained Indrek Tamberg, director of the ministry’s Water Department. “They are no longer able to impede the flow of water and need to be rebuilt. But in doing so we have to make sure that we at least preserve or, even better, improve the ecological condition of the waterways, while taking into account the interests of the people who live nearby.”

The Ministry of the Environment has already developed a project evaluating the effect on the environment of planned activities with barriers and developing measures to guarantee environmental safety. The project also proposes the construction of access ways for fish in 35 barrier structures. Tamberg says that another of the goals of the project, which is being partly financed through the European Union’s Cohesion Fund, is to update the barriers in such a way that they can also be used in future to obtain hydropower.

Situations are considered to be significant flood risks when they may endanger people, property, the environment and the economy. There are two types of regions in Estonia at significant risk of flooding: coastal, bank or shoreline areas where the risks are associated with rising water levels in the seas, rivers or lakes; and mainland areas where the risks are associated with the barriers situated on rivers and reservoirs. A unique problem for Estonia is the flooding that occurs in Ida-Viru, which is connected to rising water levels in closed underground mines.

County

The coastal areas at significant risk of flooding include those around the Bays of Pärnu and Haapsalu, the southern coast of Saaremaa and the southern and western coasts of Hiiumaa.

Bank and shoreline risk areas include Lake Vagula-Tamula, Lake Ülemiste, some parts of Lake Peipsi, the lower reaches of the Pärnu River, Emajõgi River from Vorbuse to Kaagvere, Võhandu River from Lake Vahula to Kirumpää, and the Narva River from Vasknarva to the village of Jaama.

Barriers at risk of flooding include those of the Narva hydroelectric power station (HPS), Linnamäe HPS on the Kunda River, Kamari HPS on the Põltsamaa River, Saesaare HPS on the Ahja River, Tudulinna HPS on the Tagajõgi River and Kotka HPS on the Valgejõgi.

River

More information about regions at significant risk of flooding can be found on the ministry’s website at www.envir.ee/ujutus.

Source: Estonian Ministry of the Environment

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