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Piusa River Valley Landscape Reserve / DescriptionPiusa River Valley Landscape Reserve lies mainly in the Meremäe and Vastseliina parishes, some of it in the Orava parish of Põlva County. The reserve has been established to protect the stratified primeval valley of the Piusa River and the magnificent Devonian sandstone denudations. The river valley is up to 35 m deep and is an average of 300 m wide. Its banks are at some places very steep (slope up to 35 degrees). The waterpower of the river has previously been used to power 11 mills. The buildings and partly the equipment of the Kelba, Tamme and Väike-Härma mills have been preserved until today.
The biggest values of the reserve are 12 Devonian sandstone denudations - so-called "walls" -whose height is 6-20 m and length 20-130 m. The denudations also have a notable cultural importance - several legends and beliefs are connected to them. The primeval valley of the Piusa River is also interesting as a habitat for several associations and species. There can be found maintained floodplain mead-ows, alluvial forests, nemoral forests and very typical pine forests with cowberries and lichens. Botanically, the occurrence of several plant spe-cies of southern origin is interesting (grass-leaved sandwort, Tatar catchfly, yellow everlasting, etc). The vital population of the butterfly species Parnassius Mnemosyne is also worth mentioning.
On the southern boundary of the reserve, the ruins of the Vastseliina Castle (built in 1342 and destroyed in the Great Northern War) and the Piiri Inn from the 19th century are worth seeing. The park of the Vastseliina Manor is also on the southern boundary of the reserve. A booklet about the Piusa hiking trail - ca 15 km - is published.
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