Ratas, U., Rivis, R., Kont, A., Tõnisson, H., Vilumaa, K., Anderson, A., Szava-Kovats, R.,2014. Regional variation in the dynamics of Estonia's coastal landscapes. In: Green, A.N. and Cooper, J.A.G. (eds.), Proceedings 13th International Coastal Symposium (Durban, South Africa), Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue No. 70, pp. 139–144, ISSN 0749-0208.
The coastal landscapes of Estonia are young (less than 10,000 years old). Their development is affected by the Baltic Sea, by pre-existing geomorphology and by regional tectonic uplift. Since emerging from the sea ~5,000 years ago, the coastal landscapes have been evolving under regressive sea conditions. The landscape diversity is greatest on coasts with variable topographies and those exposed to wind and waves. Low and flat parts of the coast, which are seasonally inundated, exhibit less variable landscapes. Landscape changes in coastal areas no longer affected directly by the sea have been caused largely by human activity. Abrupt socio-political and economic changes over the last century led to a cessation of traditional land use during the Soviet era with urban sprawl and expansion of recreation areas after re-independence in the beginning of the 1990s. The aim of this paper is to analyze the structure, formation conditions, and the velocity and extent of change in coastal landscapes (for both natural and human-induced impacts) along different coastal regions of Estonia. The Estonian coast can be divided into four distinct regions: 1) Gulf of Finland; 2) Baltic Proper; 3) Gulf of Livonia and 4) Coast of Väinameri, making it possible to compare the influence of sea exposure, geological structure, vegetation, soil productivity, age of human settlements and character of land use on the development of coastal landscapes. The results of the current study are applicable to coastal conservation, to the development of sustainable coastal land use and to the facilitation of transnational tourism.