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 (Little Blossom Hill) park-residences-area gained high recognition in 1986 for modern sustainable city planning. 1.5 km2 (370 acres) Väike Õismäe organic city-cell was planned with aesthetic houses 5-, 9-, 16-storeys high in golden proportion and >68% lushious green green area for residence to spend quality time. Ancient old trees growing in the area of construction were preserved. 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 Baltic sea (Finnish gulf) and on the Harku lake. Väike Õismäe planning is registered cultural (architecture) heritage of Estonian from 20th century. It was build in the conditions of Soviet Union wo obstacles of private property and in conditions of unlimited resources. The 

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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 CommoditiesExpansion of roads for motor traffic
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsMain highway #8 - Paldiski road -, was moved 30 m closer to residences of 2399 people to the place where extremely valuable ancient vegetation was growing.

As result of bringing the road closer and logging forested area protecting the dwellings of residential area noise levels increased to 80<100dB making the residences and area with 1000 homes was rendered unsuable for living.

Some 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.

In total were cut 18 ancient trees with over 3.14 meter circumference (1 meter diameter).

Peaceful resistance and media attention to the injustice was drawn by people the whos homes were being rendered useless. Tallinn City and Estonian Police applied violence against 2399 people who´s 1000 home´s noise levels exceed today EU normatives. As is public knowledge - 2399 people were put in 10-27% higher danger of cardiac stroke ( Urban development over dead bodies of citizens!
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, Kalev Kallo, Marek Jürgenson, Anu Hallik-Jürgenstein, (Tallinn, Reval) from Estonia - Customer
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
K-Projekt AS (K-Projekt) from Estonia - paper architecture planner
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;

Estonian Environmental Board - allowed to remove active bird nests during nesting season.
International and Financial InstitutionsTallinn City (Tallinn, Reval) from Estonia - financier
European Union Taxpayers (EU) from Belgium - Unclear if involved
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 and thereafter in jail
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
setting up camp under trees to draw in public awareness, 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
OtherIsolating Zoo green area in Tallinn City - isolating natural habitat on protected "northern bat" species.
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Accidents
Other>10% higher cardiac stroke risk for all of population; >27% higher cardiac risk for population >64.5 years of age (look:
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, Increase in violence and crime, Specific impacts on women, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Other socio-economic impacts
Otheraccording to WHO noise causes physical and psychological harm to humans resulting in lower ability for performance and potentially death
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
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 naturally and culturally 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 forcefully silenced, removed from the residential area of their homes by force. Unbelievable that this is possible in claimably democratic and socially responsible European Union.
Sources and Materials

Printout from Cultural Heritage registry of Estonia - #1397 - Väike Õismäe planning
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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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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.
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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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Noise Map Illustration of destruction of homes and total neglect of citizens by Tallinn City
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Sustainable City Cell Little Blossom Hill park-residence that has partly been destroyed
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Illegal Logging by Tallinn City Evidence showing illegal logging of ancient trees by Tallinn City during birds nesting season without permit
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Meta Information
Last update25/01/2018