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BONUS BALTCOAST: BONUS BALTCOAST Case Study Estonia: Coastal protection management, Pärnu Bay, Estonia

Type of Entry: Case Study
Website: http://www.baltcoast.net/coastal-protection.html
Duration: 01/04/2015 - 31/03/2018


Pärnu study site is prone to high storm surges and associated flooding. Avoiding extreme events in Pärnu is impossible. Consequently, the area needs a comprehensive approach in coastal zone management in order to protect the city as much as possible from the harmful results of extensive floods, storm and possible rare ice attacks.


  • The first objective of the BONUS BALTCOAST project in Pärnu case study area was to summarize the results from a number of previous projects and to discuss about the results with stakeholders on how these projects have helped to adequately respond to natural hazards;
  • The second objective was to generate different scenarios to tackle inundation and erosion problems in Pärnu case study area;
  • The final objective was to choose the most realistic scenarios, refine these scenarios based on modelling results and feedback from stakeholders and to introduce those scenarios and the most appropriate response options to key stakeholders (decision makers).


  • Institute of Ecology at Tallinn University was the initiator of the study and all the BONUS BALTCOAST project partners were involved as collaborators. Pärnu City Planning Department, Pärnu Rescue Board, Pärnu County Tourism Foundation were the key stakeholders involved in this case study.

ICZM tools applied within the case study:

  • CATWOE and DPSIR analysis;
  • Generation of conceptual model and sub models;
  • Generation of response scenarios;
  • 2D and 3D modelling;
  • GIS based analysis;
  • Stakeholder involvement and stakeholder meetings.

Case study site highlights and experiences that can be exchanged:

  • Some common practices from the other countries (e.g. managed retreat, dam building, etc.) are not accepted by the local stakeholders. Loss of identity of the region is the key aspect why such options cannot be considered here;
  • Active stakeholders and active people of the region are well aware of the problem and know how to act in case of extreme storm event. At the same time, a relatively high number of less active and less educated local people lack awareness of the problem and they do not know how to act in case of a flood event or how to adapt in a longer time perspective;
  • A number of awareness increasing measures were very positively accepted by the mayor of the city and it is likely that these measures will be implemented in the future and the implementation will be supported by the local municipality (activities like drawing inundation levels on the streets, pedestrian walks, traffic poles, fences etc.);
  • Discussion on the need of beach nourishment measure and sediment bypassing near harbours in Estonia was initiated and reached the highest administrative level (ministry level);
  • Increasing awareness was among the most important activities to be carried out as suggested by our project. We can point out that the key persons who are responsible for increasing awareness among the people of Pärnu and finding relevant solutions for adaptation are motivated enough and our project has had certain impact on this. It was admitted that the current strategy involves mostly more active and educated people while relatively large part of the population may lack information on possible threats and has not enough awareness on how to avoid or minimize potential losses in case of catastrophic inundations.




  • Strong research background and supporting research in the region;
  • A number of previous projects dealing with different aspects of the problem;
  • Interest groups and relatively active stakeholders;
  • Problems that are not disappearing but are getting worse in future perspective;
  • Positive and constructive feedback to the scenarios and response options;
  • Generation of two parallel scenarios instead of on.


  • Problematic involvement of some key stakeholders as a result of administrative reform;
  • Low involvement of stakeholders in recent history and low interest among many potential stakeholders, but this is a general problem in Estonia not only in case of the current project;
  • Short duration of the project and the elections during the most important phase of the project have made the implementation process slow and complicated;
  • Loss of key contact persons without quick replacement in the city government; Many important activities are person-related rather than position related in such a small country like Estonia;
  •   Implementation process is very sensitive to changes in the local political field.


  • New and larger municipalities have more resources to implement the results of the project;
  • New and larger municipalities need to homogenize the legislation and regulation acts and there is a higher probability of taking the results of our projects into consideration.


  • The results of our projects would be forgotten in case of a long period of political instability when the key persons are mostly involved in urgent political issues.
Keywords: Climate change, Coastal erosion, Flood, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), Public information
Contact: Mr. Are Kont
Institute of Ecology, at Tallinn University
Uus-Sadama 5
10120 Tallinn
Telephone: +3726199837
Website: https://www.tlu.ee/en/Institute-of-Ecology
Partner: BaltCoast project partners (http://www.baltcoast.net/case-study-sites.html)
Financed by: BONUS BALTCOAST project has received funding from BONUS (Art 185), funded jointly by the EU and Baltic Sea national funding institutions. (https://www.bonusportal.org/)
Tallinn University research fund (http://www.tlu.ee/en/research-administration-office)