Preserving Estonian dugout canoe heritage through tourism

Preserving Estonian dugout canoe heritage through tourism

Karuskose, Estonia
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Promoting and preserving the building skills and use of traditional dugout canoes (log-boats) of Soomaa National Park, Estonia by organizing workshops, camps and river trips both for locals and tourists.

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What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Promote and preserve the building skills and use of traditional dugout canoes (log-boats) of Soomaa National Park, Estonia by organizing workshops, camps and river trips both for locals and tourists.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

Promoting and preserving the building skills and use of traditional dugout canoes (log-boats) of Soomaa National Park, Estonia by organizing workshops, camps and river trips both for locals and tourists.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

A dugout is a boat which is basically a hollowed tree trunk. Other names for this type of boat are logboat and monoxylon. Dugouts are the oldest boats archaeologists have found. In the flooded area of Soomaa national park these boats are survived as living culture. By today Soomaa has developed into a center for building and maintaining the traditions of these ancient boats in Estonia. Guests are welcome to come and educate themselves about the history and construction of these ancient vessels, participate in the practical building camps and make forays into the pristine nature of Soomaa National Park on these prehistoric vessels.

Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

Success can be measured by: 1. number of dugout canoe workshops and trips organized 2. number of people participated on these events 3 number of media reviews, articles on papers and magazines, TV-shows

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Dugout canoes are harder to make than "normal" boats, that is the reason why less and less boats are built. In 1996 only 2 old men was able to build logboats. By organizing dugout workshops lot of outside attention has been brought to the culture of Soomaa people, from visitors of the area as well as media. It has created a new interest for the boat building work among local men and people are proud of the unique culture connected to dugout canoes and Fifth Season.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

Dugout canoes are unique boats survived in the unique natural conditions of Soomaa National Park. Traditions are carried out to today by local boat builders, residents of the area.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

By experiencing a dugout building and paddling on the rivers on this ancient canoes people can understand the connection between Nature and our lives here.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

We have recieved some grants for the boat building workshops 10 years ago. Today these festivals as well as dugout canoe trips on the rivers are self-financed.

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

Yes , these dugout canoe trips and building workshops are economically viable tour products.

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?


What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

We will start taking excursion groups this year, for that we do need to invest for infrastructure (better road, electricity in the building-hall etc) and guide trainings.

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

When Soomaa National Park was created in 1993 by the initiative of Estonian Fund for Nature, the idea of promoting and preserving dugout canoe culture of local residents. Only two old men was able to build dugouts. First boat building festival was organized in 1996, and similar activities has been carried out every year afterwards.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

I have been 15 years working as private nature tourism operator in Soomaa National Park, Estonia where I live. See my company site . I have also 15 years been one of the leaders for Ecotourism movement in Estonia. See my interview for ECOCLUB, International Ecotourism Magazine at their site:

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.


What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

Areas , where there is a risk for loosing of some cultural features, that can be the same time an interesting attraction for tourism development. Restoring a lost culture is impossible. Culture is a very sensitive issue, it is something that people first and foremost do for themselves, not for others. It is normally not a problem, that you share your culture with others such as tourists, allowing them to experience it. But the question is how far can you go?