Estonia belongs to the northern part of the mixed forest sub-zone of the temperate forest zone. Due to a large variety of soil conditions and moisture regimes, many different types of forest grow here:

Fresh boreo-nemoral forests grow on the most productive soils, which have been largely cultivated due to their high productivity. In addition to the common (Norway) spruce, valuable broad-leaved trees such as the English oak, the European ash, the mountain elm, the Norway maple and the small-leaved lime grow in boreo-nemoral forests. The forests are characterised by a lush and species-rich undergrowth formed by the hazelnut, the fly honeysuckle, the May rose and the mountain currant. The field layer is formed by the goutweed, the yellow archangel, the lungwort, the wood stitchwort, the hazelwort, the female fern, the hepatica and the wood anemone.

Fresh boreal forests grow on fresh soils of higher productivity. The tree layer is dominated by the common spruce, accompanied by less abundant birches and aspens. The undergrowth is sparse and poor in species. Characteristic species of the field layer include the common trientale, the May lily, the wood sorrel, and characteristic species of ferns include the ostrich fern and of mosses — Hylocomium splendens.

Dry boreal forests are pure pine forests with cowberry growing under the pines in drier and more nutrient-poor places. Other characteristic species include mosses, in particular Pleurozium schreberi and the haircap moss. Of herbs, the pasqueflower and the common cow-wheat are characteristic. Forests growing on moister soils also have an undergrowth formed by spruces, and cowberry is replaced by bilberry there. The Estonian common name for dry boreal forests — 'palu' — refers to forest fires, which used to be the main factors inducing natural regeneration of forests of such type.

Boreal heath forests have a still poorer sandy soil than that in dry boreal forests. The pines here are more stunted and almost no other tree species can be found. In boreal heath forests the abundant moss carpet of dry boreal forests is often replaced by lichens-reindeer lichens and, in places, Iceland lichens. Of the higher plants, pine heaths may be rich in cowberries, although the bearberry and the common heather are more common.

In minerotrophic mobile water swamp forests the dominant tree species is the black alder. Such forests can be found in valleys and stream floodplains where spring or flood water establishes a wet substratum. Characteristic field layer species of these forests include the marsh marigold, the bog arum, a number of sedge species, the smooth horsetail, and the meadowsweet.

As a result of human activity, abundant meadows have developed in Estonia. Meadows are classified into several types according to their soil and water regime. Dry and fresh meadows, which have developed on the sites of former boreo-nemoral forests, are relatively rich in species. Alvar meadows occurring on thin soils on limestone have become very rare due to the retreat of traditional agricultural practices. The same has happened to floodplain meadows, coastal meadows and wooded meadows (sparse seminatural woodlands formed as a result of regular mowing and grazing).

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