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Jun 14, 2018

How we live in Estonian UNESCO islands

We in Hiiumaa LAG invited people from the Saaremaa LAG (the neighbouring island) to discuss why our businesses are still cautious to embrace UNESCO's recognition as an excellent marketing opportunity. Lia Rosenberg, the Biosphere Program officer, believed that the backdrop of the Soviet past, when nature conservation meant mere restrictions, still keeps people back. But new entrepreneurs who do not know anything about Russian time have stepped in the busines! Andrus Talvari, the Chef of Ungru Resto, said he has an interest in working under the auspices of UNESCO. Most of the raw materials used in the kitchen of his restaurant comes already from local producers.

There is about 700 regions in the world to which UNESCO has given the right to own the Biosphere program logo, as these areas manage their life in sustainable way towards environment. Let's use this opportunity! Our food producers, the creative industries, farmers, and other businesses can market their activities with the UNESCO logo and have the right to say that we are on the UNESCO islands.

The Action Plan of the Strategy for the UNESCO West-Estonian islands supervised by the National Environmental Board is currently under rewrite. As Hiiumaa LAG, through its LEADER approach, is one of few funds supporting local business in our program area, we must have the opportunity to say a word about the action plan. That’s why we invited colleagues from Saaremaa. Terje Aus is the member of LEADER Evaluation Commission and is well aware of what needs to be improved in the current Action Plan. We agreed that in June, based on the 17 activities provided by UNESCO, we will propse our view on the subject. 

in the photo: Project team meeting in Ungru Restaurant

Of course, local food plays an important role in the Strategy. We want those who eat to acknowledge that the food they consume will contribute to the sustainability of our island's natural environment and economy. A good example is the WWF Sweden cooperation project with Hiiumaa NGO Arhipelaag from back in 2003. Beef cattle were introduced to the island in order to restore the coastal meadows. As a result, coastal meadows and other semi-natural pastures became more species-rich and more beautiful landscapes. As the number of cattle increased, the Archipelago team, with the support of LEADER, completed a feasibility study on the abattoir in 2009, after which another NGO Veis and Lammas of farmers started to build a abattoir and product development center. The possibility to use  local organic meat has made a great contribution to our food, both at home and in the restaurants.


in the photo: Sulvi, Terje and Michele discuss the details of ice cream making

Saaremaa ice cream maker Sulvi Munk met our starting ice cream producer Michele Parrucucci, who will set up his Ice Cream Laboratory (LEADER grant 2017) next to his restaurant Mamma Mia. Certainly, there  were experiences to be exchanged - Sulvi has started her ice cream production for almost five years ago. Michele is currently looking for partners to find local milk for ice cream and local products for restaurant. Hiiumaa ice cream will be made from local organic milk. In addition he has the possibility to put ontop the pizza in  his reastaurant the locally produced cheese, which comes from the farm producer Johanna Matto (LEADER support in 2017).

in the photo: Shop owner Indrek Sammal offering Terje the local food

At the end of the meeting day we went to look for local food in the newly opened grocery store that serves also as a network of local producers. Compared to last year, the selection here is richer. We also found products with a Hiiumaa Green Label for sustainable origin and with EU green label for Organic Food that can be recommended as quality food.

West Estonian Archipelago Biosphere Area received the UNESCO MAB sertificate in 1990. The program area consist of land in islands of Hiiumaa, Saaremaa, Vormsi and Ruhnu and the territori of sea surraundig islands. Atogether about 45 000 people live in our islands.