My first landscape experiences come from orienteering in the eighties – it was a marvellous chance for a schoolboy to learn and see rural Estonia. I studied geography in Tartu. At that time the program included a field trip to some part of the former USSR. So we ended up taking a train ferry from Baku across the Caspian in 1988 to discover the Kara-Kum, hiked in the Kugitang mountains – where the borders of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan meet – and the Kola peninsula in 1990. It was the time when landscapes in geography were physical, and humans mostly disturbed them.
My BSc dealt with landscape perception, and my MSc with landscape diversity indexes. At a certain moment – while defending my PhD – I found that indexes don’t tell the story, because you need something more. And since then I have been looking for that ‘something more’ that makes landscapes so peculiar.
From the mid 1990s until I 2004 I worked as a Researcher and then Senior Researcher at the geography department of the University of Tartu, Estonia.
After having spent a Fulbright half-year at UCLA, I moved to Tallinn, spending two years at the Institute of Ecology. Since 2007 I have been running the Estonian Institute of Humanities at the Tallinn University, being a Professor of Geography at the same time. In 1998 I got involved with the Permanent European Conference for the Study of the Rural Landscape (PECSRL), and since 2006 I have been in charge of that organisation as well.
I was appointed as a Director of Landscape Research Group in 2009.