City of Trees Conflict - Haabersti Willow - Haabersti Pajupuu, Estonia

Tallinn's people against Tallinn City, illegal and unnecessary logging and deforestation, bad planning, desecration of cultural and natural heritage.


Väike Õismäe park-housing-area gained high recognition in 1986 for modern sustainable city planning. 60 hectares (150 acres) Väike Õismäe sustainable park-housing-area was planned with aesthetic houses 5-, 9-, 16-storeys high in golden proportion. 16 storeys towers around the central artificial lake ending in a “golden spiral” in the North rim of the area, artificial lake in the middle, located near the sea and on the Harku lake. Väike Õismäe planning is registered cultural heritage of Estonian from 20th century.

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Basic Data
NameCity of Trees Conflict - Haabersti Willow - Haabersti Pajupuu, Estonia
ProvinceHarju Co.
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Urban development conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Expansion of roads for motor traffic
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsMain highway #8 - Paldiski road -, was moved 30 m closer to residence. to the place where extremely valuable ancient vegetation was growing. As result of logging residential area noise levels increased to 80<100dB making the residences and area unsuable for living.

1400 valuable ancient trees logged in Tallinn City - the City of Trees.

Cut were 2 biggest trees in Tallinn - in The City of Trees:

- Black Alder with 243 cm diameter - 763 cm circumference;

- Aspen with 210 cm diameter - 660 cm circumference.

Peaceful resistance by opponents of sacrificing vegetation to motor traffic.
Project Area (in hectares)60
Level of Investment (in USD)14500000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population45000
Start Date01/05/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesTallinn City - Kalle Klandorf, Relo Ligi, Taavi Aas (Tallinn, Reval) from Estonia - Customer
K-Projekt AS (K-Projekt) from Estonia - planner
Nordecon AS (Nordecon) from Estonia - Contractor
Arborest OÜ, Heiki Hanso (Heiki Hanso) from Estonia - treecutter
K-Security (K-Security) from Estonia - cultural heritage destruction squad
Relevant government actorsEstonian Cultural Heritage Board - Siim Raie, avoided the protection of European Cultural heritage (Väike Õismäe park-housing area) in contradiction to 1985 Granada convention of protection of European architectural heritage;

Estonian Ministry of Interior - Andres Anvelt, made a precedent in allowing the Police to meddle into civil disputes between the people and the City;

Police and Boarder Guard Director - Elmar Vaher, authorization to use excessive force against Estonian population;

State Environemental Board - allowed to remove active bird nests during nesting season
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Regional Development Fund (ERFD) from Belgium - 85% financer
Tallinn City (Tallinn, Reval) from Estonia - financier
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMTÜ Tartu Pargid, Ühing Eesti Ting and Rinaldo Vahtel sought to stop the cutting down of a symbolic white willow located in front of Paldiski Highway 161 and 163 by filing an application for interim measures with Tallinn Administrative Court. Several activists spent days on the tree.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationAppeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Referendum other local consultations
Land occupation
Boycotts of companies-products
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Climbing up trees to stop them from being cut down
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Specific impacts on women, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesWe do not need wider roads. Tallinn City should implement initial plan - sleek and high troughput Haabersti crossing. There is enough room on the other side of the Paldiski road on the opposite side from the valuable Väike Õismäe park-housing area
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Police used force - meddled into civil dispute between City and People -, no justice was done. The people were silenced, removed from the residential are of their homes by force.
Sources and Materials

Architecture Experts opionion on value of park housing plan of Väike Õismäe
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Printout from Cultural Heritage registry of Estonia - #1397 - Väike Õismäe planning
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Väike Õismäe authors thoughts when plan was recognized as highly valuable
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Parliament member opinion supporting the change of the project
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DELFI Media covering the story
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Väike Õismäe - sustainable planning to be desacrated with the project
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Väike Õismäe valuable park housing area / sustainable city planning to be destroyed - photos and
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Media Links

[1] Police in Tallinn began clearing out demonstrators guarding a white willow in Haabersti slated to be cut down in the course of the reconstruction of an adjacent traffic circle. 27 June 2017. Many photographs in this source.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Väike Õismäe park housing area planned as sustainable organically functional home of 45000 people
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Forest and housing area protective vegetation Area that was widely open logged
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Majestic Willow Salix Alba
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Väike Õismäe park housing area Aerial view of 5-, 9- 16-storey houses in golden proportion and 16 storey houses in the inner circle ending in a golden spiral
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Logging 1 in City of Trees
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Väike Õismäe Planning recognized 1986 by peoples representatives for sustainable city planning; Willow tree located in planning marked
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Logging 2 in City of Trees
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Before and After Before and After
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Meta Information
Last update07/08/2017