Our organisation Kodukant Läänemaa (“Our home – Läänemaa”) was established in 1997 to unite the rural areas of the County and to foster the development of Estonian villages. It was reorganized as an NGO in 2003. The same year a local information point for the villages’ movement was opened in a small town called Lihula, which launched a series of training courses on rural development.
In 2005 the first introduction of the LEADER program was given to the local authorities and later in the same year the NGO was reorganized into the local LEADER action group.
A long journey began to put together a strategy for the future. In 2008 the strategy was approved. At the moment, the NGO Kodukant Läänemaa with its 4 employees functions as the LEADER group in Läänemaa County. The first call for applications was launched in March 2009 to gain support for rural development projects.
The county is divided into 12 smaller municipalities and NGO Kodukant Läänemaa unites 11 of them. Kodukant Läänemaa has 61 members from all over the county, including 11 municipalities, 34 local NGO´s and 16 entrepreneurs.
The main goals of the NGO are to help preserve and revive traditional village life, and to boost its harmonious development, to support village economy, folk culture and nature conservation and to unite different associations of village movements.
Läänemaa County is situated on the banks and shores of western Estonia. Our slogan is “Your safe nesting place”. In order to understand the slogan, it is good to know that 23% of the County’s territory, mostly wetlands and meadows, are under environmental protection. Nature has, for millennia, played an important role in Estonian spiritual beliefs, being perceived as a friend and a protector. We believe that one of man’s basic rights is to have access to nature. And this right goes hand in hand with the obligation to respect and protect the natural environment.
Läänemaa is a restful place, offering, at the same time, to its visitors a great natural and cultural diversity. Unspoiled nature, many historic monuments, the nearly 200 years long tradition of being a health resort, and unique cultural events are the pearls of the county. Our treasures are the Matsalu National Park, cultural heritage and our people. Many tourists visit Läänemaa to try a bit of bird watching or nature tours.
There are 233 villages in Läänemaa with around 50 active village societies. Hundreds of traditional events from recreational activities to cultural festivals are held yearly. This thankworthy voluntary work has kept Läänemaa villages and traditions alive and offered change from the everyday life. In order to keep the villages’ movement alive and to bring people back to the roots of country life, it is important to sow the seeds of hope today and to keep the flame alive.
Facts about Läänemaa
The total area of Läänemaa county is 2383 km² (5.3% of the Estonian territory). The county has all together 27 688 citizens, which makes 2% of the population of Estonia. There are 237 small islands and islets covering approximately 108 km² in the county. The length of the county’s coastline is about 400 km and the summarized coastline of all the islands is about 266 km.
The biggest island:
Vormsi – 93 km²; the name ‘Vormsi’ comes from the Swedish language and means “the snake island”.
The longest river:
Kasari – 112 km; the reinforced concrete bridge that was built over the river Kasari in 1905 was, with its 307 meters, the world longest bridge at the time.
The largest lake:
Sutlepa sea – 298 ha; it is called a sea because it was separated from the sea at the beginning of 20th century.
The highest point:
Pikajala hill – 60 m; the hill is situated near Palivere village which is the capital of Läänemaa as far as winter sports are concerned.