• Project time: 1.01.2019 - 31.08.2021.
  • TF519 "Human-nature interactions in the city: establishing an "environmental behavior" research group and network at the University of Tallinn (1.01.2019−31.08.2021)", Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Tallinn University, School of Natural Sciences and Health. See in ETIS.
  • Principal Coordinator: Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Professor of Environmental Management, Senior Research Fellow and Vice-Rector for Sustainable Development at Tallinn University.

Project team:

The main aim of the project is to enhance transdisciplinary knowledge-exchange by (1) establishing an "environmental behavior" research group, and (2) strengthening a wider national and international research network. Beyond that, the project seeks to apply the gathered knowledge on environmental behavior, research approaches and methods of different disciplines and an experimental model in a pilot study on the case of urban green spaces in Tallinn. The project is financed by Tallinn University Research Fund.



The project is financed by Tallinn University Research Fund.

Latest news

Latest news from research group „Human-nature interactions in the city”


PhD candidate Ms. Kadi Karmen Kaldma is joining the “GoGreenRoutes – Resilient Optimal Urban natural, Technological and Environmental Solutions“ project. Her thesis topic is aiming to provide a 360-degree view of the kindergartens in Tallinn which includes a questionnaire for parents and a study of the children's skin microbiota, the analysis of soil and air quality in the kindergarten premises from the height of the children's airways, a measurement of the noise level and an assessment of the health of the kindergarten caregivers through questionnaire responses and blood pressure measurements.


Planning Intervention Workshop as a part of GoGreenRoutes project took place in Vormsi green area of Tallinn and was organized as a physical outdoor event. In total about 40 people participated, including local residents, representatives of Tallinn University as well as neighbourhood organizations and city officials from fields of youth work, city planning and environment. Discussion was organised around three topics: (1) preservation of historical heritage (the ruins of Nehatu School) and development of space for leisure; (2) preservation and development of the existing orchard and vegetation; (3) raising awareness and environmental education activities.


Mariia Chebotareva (PhD) started her work as a Research Fellow in the project “GoGreenRoutes – Resilient Optimal Urban natural, Technological and Environmental Solutions“. She received her PhD in public administration and municipal governance from the University of Tartu. Mariia’s tasks within GoGreenRoutes include coordination of project activities between project partners, conducting research and analysis related to the project, preparation of publications and dissemination of results.


Helen Sooväli-Sepping visited tv-show "Suud Puhtaks" on the 24th of November and discussed Estonia's rural problems. The episode can be found here.

Joonas Plaan and Bianka Plüschke-Altof gave a guest lecture in Viimsi Gümnaasium (Gymnasium) on the topic of "Environment and climate in our everyday lives".


Piret Vacht introduced the soil of the year 2021 in the morning tv-show "Terevisioon". The clip can be found here


Joonas Plaan visited the tv show "Plekktrumm" where he discussed the future of the Baltic Sea during the time of climate change and how it affects our well-being. The episode can be found here


An article titled "Noorte mure ja võitlus kliimamuutuse vastu" ("The worry and fight of the youth against climate change") was published in cultural newspaper Sirp, where Bianka Plüschke-Altof, Joonas Plaan, Piret Vacht and Helen Sooväli-Sepping discussed the state of environmental, more specifically climate awareness among Estonian youth and it's ties to climate activism movements. The article can be found here


23.09.2020 Tallinn University Vice-Rector for Sustainable Development and Professor of Environmental Management Helen Sooväli-Sepping visited the IDA radio show "Keskkonnatund". The show can be listened here (In Estonian).


Tallinn University Vice-Rector for Sustainable Development and Professor of Environmental Management Helen Sooväli-Sepping held a lecture in Paide 24.09.2020 in the travelling exhibition organized by Estonian Co-operation Assembly and spoke about the ways the city supports physical and mental health.

The yearbook of youth monitoring was published including an article by Bianka Plüschke-Altof, Piret Vacht and Helen Sooväli-Sepping titled "Environmental awareness of the Estonian youth in the anthropocene: great knowledge, small worries?" where they focus on the climate awareness of Estonian youth. The yearbook can be found here, with an English summary at the end.


An article titled "Rohelise linna kuvand ja tegelik sisu" was published in cultural newspaper Sirp, where Bianka Plüschke-Altof and Helen Sooväli-Sepping discuss critically the true quality of urban green spaces. The article can be found here (in Estonian).


An article by Joonas Plaan was published in Maaleht focusing on the waste situation in the Baltic Sea. You can find the article here

Joonas Plaan, Christian Reichel and Bianka Plüschke-Altof presented at European Association of Social Anthropologists (21-24. July 2020) on the topic of " Fridays for Future in the time of climate crisis: Shared vulnerability perception and related adaptive strategies" in panel "Privileged fear: Europe and the concern for environmental catastrophes".

Bianka Plüschke Altof and Helen Sooväli-Sepping we have published a special issue of Socialni Studia -Social Studies entitled "(Not) My Green City", which focuses on urban green spaces by introducing case studies from different cities that critically put the spotlight on diverse forms of greenery, green politics and green city images. It is based on discussions at our green space panel during the last Nordic Geographers' Conference in Trondheim and freely available online here

Several master´s theses supervised by the members of the research group were defended in spring 2020: Ahti Jakson defenced a thesis titled "The Vertical Landscaping Utilization Potential and Factors Restricting Wider Implementation of Such in the City of Tallinn" (supervised by PhD Hannes Palang and PhD Piret Vacht), Astrid Mai Barsegjan defended thesis titled "“Dog owners’ mobility during the autumn-winter period in the districts of Mustamäe and Nõmme” (supervised by PhD Bianka Plüschke-Altof and PhD Piret Vacht). In environmental management a master´s thesis titled "Environmental impact of coffee sold in Estonia and the consumer awareness of
coffee" (supervised by PhD Piret Vacht). Also Ly Lõhmus defended her thesis "Climate change narratives among climate activists in Estonia" (supervised by MA Joonas Plaan). Additionally the research group members participated in supervising several bachelor´s theses and also reviewing theses on all levels. 


Estonian Human Development Report 2019/2020 was published. The report was edited by prof. Helen Sooväli-Sepping, assisted by Anni Müüripeal. Bianka Plüschke-Altof contributed as an author. The report and media coverage can be found here: https://www.kogu.ee/tegevus/olemus-ja-roll/eesti-inimarengu-aruanne/ees…


A special edition of Dynamiques Environnementales “From Baltic Glint to Peipsi lake. Discovering Estonia´s Environment” was published in June 2020. The edition was edited by prof. Tiiu Koff, among others, prof. Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Piret Vacht, Anni Müüripeal and Bianka Plüschke-Altof contributed as authors by discussing various aspects of Estonia’s environment.


Äripäev radio show “Eetris on Tallinna Ülikool” broadcast a talk with Piret Vacht on the benefits of urban gardens. The broadcast can be found here: https://www.aripaev.ee/saated/2020/05/26/linnaaiandus-kui-kriisiaja-ter…


Prof. Helen Sooväli-Sepping discussed with Mari Jüssi the topic of “Urban environment and health” in TLÜ Zoom seminar on May 19th, 2020. The podcast of the event can be found here: https://soundcloud.com/tallinnaylikool/ekspert-eetris-linnakeskkond-ja-…  


In the May edition (2020) of popular science magazine Horisont you can read about soil oribatid mites, a short article by Piret Vacht.


An article by prof. Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altof published in TLU magazine introduces the activities of the research group in making cities more sustainable in times of increasing urbanisation and urban densification.


Research group member and editor-in-chief of the 2020 Estonian Human Development Report, Helen Sooväli-Sepping, discusses in the TV series “Plekktrumm” how urban space influence our well-being and connection to nature and other members of society. The discussion can be followed here: https://kultuur.err.ee/1085800/helen-soovali-sepping-tallinn-vaartustab…


Research group member, TLU senior researcher Tiiu Koff, discussed the issue of food security in Tallinn’s urban gardens as guest of the Estonian Morning TV show “Terevisioon”. The interview can be viewed here: https://etv.err.ee/1084132/toidutaimede-kasvatamine-linnas


Research group members, Piret Vacht and Tiiu Koff, in cooperation with TLU system biology lecturer Kairi Koort and Tallinn city’s urban gardening project coordinator, Maria Derlõs, organized an E-seminar on food security in Tallinn’s urban gardens. More information here: http://www.pealinn.ee/tallinn/e-seminar-keskendub-linnas-kasvatatud-toi…


In July 2019, research group member Bianka Plüschke-Altof together with Tartu University senior researcher Kadri Leetmaa, was invited as guest researcher to the Leibniz-Institute for Research and Society in Space (Erkner, Germany). A short overview of the workshop on “Rural Areas in Estonia and Gemrany” conducted during this research stay is now available here: https://leibniz-irs.de/aktuelles/veranstaltungen/2019/07/rural-areas-in… (English) ja https://leibniz-irs.de/wissenstransfer/transferpublikationen/irs-aktuel… (German)


"The Sustainable cities in the Nordic-Baltic region" programme will take place 25.-28.09.2020 in Riga. A member of our research team and doctoral student in Tallinn University School of Natural Sciences and Health Anni Müüripeal will participate as a mentor this year. For more information on the course and how to apply: https://www.hanaholmen.fi/en/culturalcentre/sustainable-cities-2020/


Piret Vacht defended her doctoral titled "Diatoms and oribatid mites as bioindicators under different anthropogenic disturbances" thesis at Tallinn University on the 20th of March 2020. The supervisors were visiting professor Tiiu Koff from Tallinn University and docent Annely Kuu from Tallinn Technical University Tartu College. 

Our research team member and visiting professor and senior researcher Tiiu Koff had her 30th work anniversary at Tallinn University.


In the framework of a guest lecturer series at Viimsi Grammar School, research group members Joonas Plaan and Bianka Plüschke-Altof are holding a lecture on the topic “Environment and Climate in our daily lives”. The lecture will discuss environmental and climate-change related debates in general and introduce the ongoing research on the Climate Strike movement in Estonia (Fridays for Future), which is prepared by the research group members in collaboration with the Leibniz-Institute for Research and Society on Space in Erkner (Germany). See more: https://vgm.edu.ee/ 


One of the main challenges in an urbanizing world is the increasing estrangement from nature going hand in hand with a decreasing environmental awareness. Community gardens are one method to reconnect urbanites with the surrounding nature. If you are interested in learning more about community gardening and participate in a real-life project, then come and join the ELU course “University garden = community garden” organized by Piret Vacht and Tiiu Koff. See more: https://elu.tlu.ee/project/481  


The application deadline for the Mobilitas+ PostDoc Scholarship has finished. We are happy about the applicants’ interest in joining our research group and are crossing our fingers to welcome one of them soon! See more: https://www.tlu.ee/en/lti/news/mobilitas-plus-postdoc-scholarship-field…


The preparations for the 2020 Estonian Human Development Report (EIA) are at its final stage. In January 2020 EIA Editor-in-Chief, Helen Sooväli Sepping, gave an overview of the main results to the President of the Estonian Republic and the Constitutional Committee of the Estonian Parliament. Other contributions of the research group to the current EIA come from Anni Müüripeal, assistant to the Editor-in-Chief, and Bianka Plüschke-Altof, article author. See more: https://www.kogu.ee/en/estonian-human-development-report-2018-2019-focu…;


Helen Sooväli-Sepping discussed participation in environmental decision-making in Estonia in the TV show “Suud puhtaks”. See here: https://www.err.ee/1015058/suud-puhtaks-kuidas-lahendada-konflikt-arend…


The research group “Human-nature interactions in the city" under the lead of Tiiu Koff, Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altof participates in the international “GoGreen Routes” project, which has just received funding within the Horizon2020 “Nature-Based Solutions” framework. The project is headed by the Trinity College Dublin and will be implemented starting from 2020 in close cooperation with the city of Tallinn. More information: https://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/index.cfm?pg=nbs


Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altof were recognized during the honour ceremony at Tallinn University on 28. November 2019 for their effective research work. https://www.tlu.ee/lti/uudised/lti-inimesed-prorektorite-tanuuritusel


Discussion on the recent Tartu Planners' Conference, in which also members of the research group on "Human-nature interactions in the city" participated actively. Read more: https://www.sirp.ee/s1-artiklid/arhitektuur/tartu-planeerimiskonverents-2019/


„Human-nature interactions in the city” research group will attend at Tartu Planning Conference 2019, 7-8th. November 2019 in Tartu. Helen Sooväli-Sepping has been invited to give a keynote address on "Our Common Space - Spatial Development of Estonia". In addition, Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Bianka Plüschke-Altof and Anni Müüripeal will attend a panel on “INCLUSION IN CITY AND REGIONAL PLANNING: EXPERIENCE, LEARNING AND CHALLENGES IN ESTONIA”. Read more here: http://planeerimiskonverents.ut.ee/kava-2019.


In the beginning of November twenty five participants from the Nordic-Baltic countries attended NORDPLUS masters school "Sustainable cities in the Nordic-Baltic Region". For four-days course participants from 17 different countries including Iceland, Mexico, Ghana, Argentina, Australia, Malaysia, U.S, Canada, Vietnam, Moldova etc discussed the issues of resilience, socio-ecological systems and community building. The themes of this year were mobility, well-being and seasonality. Read more: https://www.tlu.ee/en/lti/mediahub/blogs/sustainable-cities-masters-school-course-researched-mustamae


Already next week the seminar on „Sustainable Cities in the Nordic-Baltic Region (2019-2021)“ will take place in Tallinn! The seminar is organized by the research group “Human-nature relations in an urbanizing world” in collaboration with Helsinki University, Aalto University, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the University of Latvia. For more information, see here: https://www.hanaholmen.fi/en/event/sustainable-cities-in-the-nordic-bal…. If you have any questions, please contact: pluescbi@tlu.ee 


Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Marju Kõivupuu will speak about the ongoing forestry development plan coordination process. From a cultural perspective, their presentation asks “how culture is represented in the forestry development plan?”. More information: helen.soovali@tlu.ee


Interview with Joonas Plaan in the ERR live show “Otse uudistemajast” on the topic “How to fight climate change”. See more: https://www.err.ee/994604/otse-uudistemajast-kell-11-kuidas-kliimamuutu…


Anni Müüripeal will speak about her doctoral thesis under the topic of “Risk behavior” at the interdisciplinary PhD seminar on „Health Behavior and Wellbeing“ (23th October 2019, Tallinn University). More information: annim@tlu.ee 


Helen Sooväli-Sepping is presenting conclusions from the Estonian Human Development Report 2019/20 at the TÜHI research seminar. The presentation asks “If democracy needs public space?” (23rd October 2019, Tallinn University room A-325). More information: https://www.facebook.com/events/757684481319774/


Joonas Plaani arvamus artikkel teemal ”Inimese ajastu tähendab vastutust ”. Loe rohkem: https://leht.postimees.ee/6805378/inimese-ajastu-tahendab-vastutust

Opinion article by Joonas Plaan on the topic of "Responsibility in the Anthropocene". Read more: https://leht.postimees.ee/6805378/inimese-ajastu-tahendab-vastutust


Joonas Plaan presents his doctoral thesis on the topic “Climate change from the perspective of social sciences” at the Fridays’ seminar of LTI’s Institute of Ecology. More information: https://www.tlu.ee/lti/sundmused/okoloogia-keskuse-seminar-joonas-plaan…


Do you want to know more about the topic of Environmental Justice and how this applies to Estonia? Then take part in the „Advanced Course in Environmental Justice“. Organized by Bianka Plüschke-Altof, this is an English seminar for students of Urban Governance and Environmental Management, but open also to others interested. More information: pluescbi@tlu.ee 


In September Tiiu Koff participated in the international project “Reconstruction of Late Holocene Paleoenvironmental Conditions of the Shiraki plain – Traces of Early State Formations in the Southern Caucasus”, which was financed by the Shota Rustavel National Research Fund. More information:  https://rustaveli.org.ge/eng


Bianka Plüschke-Altof, Piret Vacht and Helen Sooväli-Sepping prepare an overview on the “Environmental Awareness among the Estonian Youth” for the next ‘Youth Monitor’ (Noorteseire) Yearbook, which will be published in spring 2020. More information: https://www.noorteseire.ee/et/aastaraamat 


Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altof are hosting a panel on “Participation processes in urban and regional planning: Experiences, lessons and challenges in Estonia” at the upcoming Tartu Planners’ Conference taking place on 7-8 Nov, 2019 in Tartu. Listeners are very welcome! For more information, see: http://planeerimiskonverents.ut.ee/ 


There are still a few days to apply for the international and interdisciplinary MA course “Sustainable Cities in the Nordic-Baltic Region”, which takes place on 31st Oct to 3rd Nov 2019 in Tallinn. The course is organized by the members of the research group on “Human-nature relations in an urbanizing world” in collaboration with Helsinki University, Aalto University, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the University of Latvia. For more information, see here: https://www.hanaholmen.fi/en/event/sustainable-cities-in -the-nordic-baltic-region/ 


Joonas Plaan and Bianka Plüschke-Altof are presenting in the panel on “Future jeopardised: socialities and creations of the fear of climate change”, hosted by Aet Annist (University of Tartu) and Bianka Plüschke-Altof (Tallinn University) at the ASA Anthropology Conference in Norwich (UK) on Sept 3-6, 2019. For more information, see here: https://www.theasa.org/conferences/asa19/ 


New ELU project course hosted by Piret Vacht at Tallinn University on the topic of “Marketing Environmental Sciences”. For more information, see: https://elu.tlu.ee/projects/open 


The members of the “Human-nature relations in an urbanizing world” research group under the lead of Tiiu Koff, Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altof participated in the “GoGreen Routes” project proposal, which reached the second round of the Horizon2020 call on “Nature-Based Solutions”. The project application was prepared in cooperation with the City of Tallinn and is headed by the Trinity College Dublin. More information: https://ec.europa.eu/research/environment/index.cfm?pg=nbs


Presentation on the topic "Combating environmental injustices with community gardening?” (Bianka Plüschke-Altof, Anni Müüripeal, Helen Sooväli-Sepping) and session organisation on the topic ”(Not) my green city? Green spaces in times of urbanization” (Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Bianka Plüschke-Altof) at the Nordic Geographers’ Conference ”Sustainable Geography – Geographies of Sustainability”, 16.-19. June 2019 in Trondheim (Norway): Read more: https://www.ntnu.edu/documents/140166/1277962954/Session+programme.pdf/…


The University garden is now opened! Constructed from scratch by TLU students within the ELU project lead by Piret Vacht and Tiiu Koff. Read more:  https://elu.tlu.ee/project/348 and https://www.facebook.com/ulikooliaed/


Opinion article by Joonas Plaan on the topic ”Anname tursale aega kosuda”. Read more: https://www.err.ee/950121/joonas-plaan-anname-tursale-aega-kosuda


Helen Sooväli-Sepping presents at this year's 'Tervisedenduse Konverents' which focuses on the topic "How to create a health-supporting environment?" (4th of June 2019, Kultuurikatel Tallinn). More information: https://tai.ee/et/koolitused-ja-sundmused/event/2172-tervisedenduse-kon…


Members of the research group „Human-nature interactions in the city” participate in the Nordic and Baltic educational programme Nordplus “Sustainable Cities in the Nordic-Baltic Region (2019-20121)” in cooperation with Helsinki University, Aalto University, Stockholm University Stockholm Resilience Centre and the University of Latvia. Read more: https://www.nordplusonline.org/


Presentation on the topic "Biodiversity and recreational values of urban brownfields: the case of Tallinn. Studies from Paevälja wasteland" (Piret Vacht, Tiiu Koff) at the international symposium "Urban wastelands: a form of urban nature?", 21-22. May 2019, Tours (France). Read more: https://urbanwastelands.sciencesconf.org/


Bianka Plüschke-Altof and Anni Müüripeal will present at the next MKK seminar on the topic of “A green paradise in the mid of pre-fabricated houses: The rediscovery of urban gardening in post-socialist Tallinn”. More information: pluescbi@tlu.ee


Helen Sooväli-Sepping was honoured with the Tallinn City award. Read more: https://www.tlu.ee/lti/uudised/helen-soovali-sepping-palvis-tallinna-li…


Discussion on the joint research project on „Estonian small settlements” by Hendrikson & Ko and Tallinn University in Sirp newspaper. Read more: https://sirp.ee/s1-artiklid/arhitektuur/vaikeasulate-elujou-nimel/?fbclid=IwAR34NezUSR7kjxuR8x6CX4cpcP79fjvZ1q9eA5gOQmy5z215gDRJUj3TpSY


CfP “(Not) my green city? Green spaces in times of urbanization” in the journal Social Studies, special number edited by Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altof. Read more: https://journals.muni.cz/socialni_studia/announcement/view/114


Interview with Helen Sooväli Sepping on the issue of “Public Space” in the journal of Tartu University. Read more:  https://www.ajakiri.ut.ee/artikkel/3164?fbclid=IwAR2sL9qUAve0H-np99hnAeCptUXsklXD_paACvyMGFalTRsd-oaIn092C74


Small lecture by Kristi Grišakovi and Anni Müüripeal on the issue of “Just Space” at the Estonian Architecture Museum. Read more: https://www.arhitektuurimuuseum.ee/2019/04/67-valkloeng-vordoiguslik-ruum/


CfA “Future jeopardised: Socialities and creations of the fear of climate change” Association of Social Anthropologists’ conference session organized by Aet Annist and Plüschke-Altof. Read more: https://www.theasa.org/conferences/asa19/panels#8023


Creative Mornings with Joonas Plaan, discussing the topic of “People’s everyday interaction with water”. Read more: https://creativemornings.com/talks/joonas-plaan?fbclid=IwAR3xbGUNw3W_Jzq2kZQ-XD_dniNevJ-fD8Hlsq3jIW-Q8fwuQTK_OReiFq4


Tallinn University’s Nature Academy workshop on “Urban Gardening” with Bianka Plüschke-Altof and Helen Sooväli-Sepping. Read more in the journal “Hea Laps”: https://www.healaps.ee/


Tallinn University’s ELU project “University Garden” organized by Tiiu Koff and Piret Vacht. Read more: https://elu.tlu.ee/project/348 ja https://www.facebook.com/ulikooliaed/


CfA “(Not) my green city? Green spaces in times of urbanization” Nordic Geographers’ Conference session organized by Helen Sooväli-Sepping and Bianka Plüschke-Altofi. Read more: https://studntnu-my.sharepoint.com/:w:/g/personal/marsland_ntnu_no/EQXdN9We2N9Lu41ookpAdtUB0Ubm1VpwqYaB-yZLSHgVFA?rtime=2h1gUu7R1kg