Geo- and Biosciences

With half of its landmass covered by forests and dotted with 1,521 islands, Estonia possesses incredible biodiversity. Add large wetlands and Europe’s largest oil-shale and rock phosphate deposits and it is easy to see that environmental researchers have their hands full. Geo- and biosciences bring together all those who monitor and address any environmental and ecological problems out there.

Featuring field: Ecological sciences in Estonia

Research institutions

Bio- and georepositories

From fossils to live cells, these repositories hold a range of specimens that are actively used as bases for new research. Which is exactly why NATARC, the joint  science roadmap for Estonian biologists and geologists, is coordinating the development of collections and digital archives. One, PlutoF, is a cloud database and computing service for taxonomic, ecologic and phylogenetic research. Another, SARV, is an information system for geological data.

Earth observations

Development of modern satellite and airborn remote sensing technology for monitoring vegetation, landscape and aquatic environment is done is close cooperation of Tartu Observatory, Marine system Institute at Tallinn Technical University, Estonian Marine institute at the University of Tartu and Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the Estonian University of Life Sciences.


There are three main hubs for ecological research in Estonia: the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences at the University of Tartu, the Institute of Ecology at Tallinn University, and the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the Estonian University of Life Sciences. The National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics rounds up the list with toxicology research into nanoparticles.


Geology has two Estonian addresses: the Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences at the University of Tartu, and the Institute of Geology at the Tallinn University of Technology.

Marine and inland water studies

Estonia offers little to desert researchers. The country’s coastline is 3,794 kilometers long and Lake Peipus is the fourth-largest in Europe. Which is why marine and lake research has roots some two centuries deep. For example, sea-level measurements in Pärnu began in 1824 and Lake Peipus was one of the first places in the world where scientists began studying the impact of overfishing.

Inland water research is the domain of the Centre for Limnology at the Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Estonia has three main institutions for marine studies:

  • Estonian Marine Institute at the University of Tartu is the country’s largest such organisation. Its research ranges from seawater physics to biology and from microscopic scale to full ecosystems. As can be expected, the Institute’s primary focus is on the ecosystem and functioning of the Baltic Sea.
  • The Marine Systems Institute at the Tallinn University of Technology conducts basic and applied research of physical and biogeochemical processes in the Baltic Sea. It also models these processes in the context of atmospheric, land and human impacts, and develops marine information systems, analysis and forecast methods.
  • The Institute of Cybernetics at the Tallinn University of Technology has many research directions. In the marine space, it studies complex and nonlinear phenomena in wave dynamics and coastal engineering, and applies mathematical methods to wave research.