Nutt, N., Nurme, S., Hiob, M., Salmistu, S. and Kotval, Z.*. 2013. Restoring Manor Parks: Exploring and Specifying Original Design and Character through the Study of Dendrologous Plants in Estonian Historical Manor Parks. Baltic Forestry 19(2): 280-288.

Manor parks are an integral part of the Estonian landscape, given that we have about 1000 manors with smaller and larger parks of which about 400 are under nature protection or declared as national heritage objects. Manor park restoration is an important national goal for the country. However, restoration techniques and expertise is not readily available. While there is great interest in cataloguing and inventorying the plant species in the Estonian Landscape, particularly in Manor Parks, knowing the types of different species is far from adequate to understand the original composition and design of the parks for true restoration. While historical documents, maps, writings, poetry and paintings give us useful background information regarding the overall scheme, such as spatial orientation and road patterns, little is understood about detailed plantings, tree species etc. Under specific circumstances the old trees in the park may yield valuable information for restoration decisions. The most important question in restoration is which woody plants and on what conditions are the part for the original design concept. That is the key question posed by the researchers of this paper. Due to the fact that the development of manors and manor parks in the Baltic countries is similar the topic is equally interesting for all Baltic States. Moreover, the addressed problems of restoration of parks are similar in every place with the lack of primary data.

The researchers contend that in addition to the inventories performed by many foresters and naturalists, it is equally relevant to know the actual count of each type of tree to begin composing the original landscape. Furthermore, one needs to understand that these parks have evolved over many years and the current structure might be very different than the original plan. To make it even more complicated, it is difficult to really say what era was „original“ or what were the glory days of the Mansions. One of the ways to deal with this issue is to identify the really old trees from the new or subsequent growth, and focus attention on those. The authors have begun the tedious task of identifying, inventorying (types and number of species) and understanding this footprint in each of the 16 parks in 2003 - 2009.

This paper addresses the significance of focusing on the identification and composition of old trees and their influence/ significance in understanding the original intent of the park design and the amount of original matter in today’s historical parks, thereby aiding in better restoration efforts.

Key words: historical manor parks, examples of dendrologous species.