In recent years Estonian geologists have participated in the work of ProGEO (the European Association for the Conservation of Geological Heritage). The aim of ProGEO is to share the know-how on selecting, managing, protecting and sustainably using the Europe’s geological heritage.
Estonian geologists participate in the activities of Working Group no. 3, currently involving also members from Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Northwestern Russia, Latvia and Lithuania. Today one of the working group’s main aims is to compile a unified list of geosites representing the geodiversity of northern Europe. Thus, proceeding from the ProGEO initiative, a list of most representative geosites of Estonia was compiled in 2000-2001. The geosites were selected considering also their role in the geological development of Northern Europe.
Besides Estonian geologists, amateur naturalists and wider public participated in compilation of the above list. Dr. Rein Raudsep, ProGEO founder member, put together the preliminary list comprising 27 geosites. All Estonian geologists were invited to supplement and discuss this list and people interested in nature were also encouraged to vote and discuss the geosites, as well as propose new ones via the Internet. As a result, altogether 53 geosites were suggested to include in the list of most prominent geosites of Estonia. From these the members of the Estonian Geological Society (EGEOS) were asked to select 30 geosites. The comparison of the Internet poll results with the suggestions of geologists showed that the first 10-15 geosites coincided in both lists. This proves that people value the nature and that geologists have successfully propagated the sites of geological interest.
A committee consisting of experienced Estonian geologists (Dimitri Kaljo, Tõnu Meidla, Avo Miidel, Guido Paalme, Enn Pirrus, Rein Raudsep and Krista Täht) compiled the final list. The committee proceeded from the ProGEO principle that these selected geosites must be representative and valued in Estonia, and also be significant from the standpoint of geological development and geological diversity of Northern Europe. Finally, 25 geosites were selected; among these the North-Estonian Klint and the Silurian Klint comprise several objects. Over 100 single objects have been distinguished on the North-Estonian Klint, from these the committee selected nine cliffs and eight waterfalls (among others Valaste waterfall dropping from Saka-Ontika-Toila Cliff, the highest in the Baltic States). From the objects distinguished on the Silurian Klint five magnificent cliffs on the northern coast of Saaremaa Island were selected, especially stressing the geological diversity. The cliffs are important objects in the folklore and culture of residents of coastal areas. The North-Estonian Klint has become a symbol of Northern Estonia and the Silurian Klint – of Saaremaa Island.