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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
Name of conflict:City of Trees Conflict - Haabersti Willow - Haabersti Pajupuu, Estonia
State or province:Harju Co.
Location of conflict:Tallinn
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Expansion of roads for motor traffic
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Main highway #8 - Paldiski road -, was moved 30 m closer to residences of 2399 people to the place where extremely valuable ancient vegetation was growing.

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Project area:60
Level of Investment:14500000
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:45000
Start of the conflict:01/05/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Tallinn 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 actors:Estonian 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 Finance InstitutionsTallinn City (Tallinn, Reval) from Estonia - financier
European Union Taxpayers (EU) from Belgium - Unclear if involved
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:MTÜ 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
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Boycotts of companies-products
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
Other Environmental impactsIsolating 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 Health impacts>10% higher cardiac stroke risk for all of population; >27% higher cardiac risk for population >64.5 years of age (look:
Socio-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsaccording to WHO noise causes physical and psychological harm to humans resulting in lower ability for performance and potentially death
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:We 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Printout from Cultural Heritage registry of Estonia - #1397 - Väike Õismäe planning
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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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Parliament member opinion supporting the change of the project
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[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]

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Last update18/08/2019
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