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Sound and independent information
on the environment

Latvia

Nature protection and biodiversity (Latvia)

Why should we care about this issue

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

Latvia’s natural environment is part of its national heritage and represents a significant resource. Coastal wetlands, wet forests, pristine bogs, and the natural habitats of animals are features of national and international importance[1].

A large number of natural ecosystems have been preserved in Latvia. The conservation process has been influenced by various climatic, geographic and soil-related factors and traditions and a varying intensity of economic activities. Latvia is one of the countries in Europe with the richest biodiversity and an established tradition of nature conservation. The first strict nature reserve was designated in 1912. The terrestrial biodiversity and landscapes of Latvia are significantly enriched by the coastal area of the Baltic Sea.

Healthy ecosystems and appropriate ecosystem services are recognized as essential for the promotion of the national economy and sustainable development, as indicated in the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.



[1] Source: Latvian National Development Plan 2007–2013

http://www.raplm.gov.lv/uploads/filedir/National_development_plan_2007-2013_eng.pdf

 

 


 

The state and impacts

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Natura 2000 Protected Nature territories cover 12 % (or 784 300 hectares) of the territory of Latvia. There are 327 Natura 2000 Protected Nature territories for the protection of habitats and species.. Latvia’s Specially Protected Nature Territories and designated Natura 2000 sites occupy almost 19 % of its territory.

Seven Specially Protected Marine Territories have recently been established and approved in Cabinet of Ministers Regulations[1] and are now accepted as a new category in Latvia’s nature conservation system.

 

 Figure 1 MAP OF SPECIALLY PROTECTED NATURE TERRITORIES IN LATVIA



Fig1_mapSPT

Source: Nature Protection Agency of Latvia


SPECIALLY PROTECTED NATURE TERRITORIES BY CATEGORY IN LATVIA

Figure 2. A. NATURA 2000 DESIGNATED AREAS BY CATEGORY (TOTAL: 327)

Fig2_Natura2000_327

 

 

Figure 3. B. SPECIALLY PROTECTED NATURE TERRITORIES INCLUDING NATURA 2000 BY CATEGORY (TOTAL: 692)

Fig3_teritories_692

Source:
 1. Ministry of Environment of
Latvia

  - http://www.vidm.gov.lv/eng/darbibas_veidi/specially_protected_nature_territories/

 2. Nature Protection Agency of Latvia

  - http://www.daba.gov.lv/index.php?objid=816

  - http://www.daba.gov.lv/index.php?objid=959

 

There are 18 047 animal, 5 396 plant and 4 100 mushroom species in Latvia. Experts consider 907 species (about 3.3 %) to be rare and endangered, while 723 plant and animal species and 93 biotopes have been included in lists of specially protected species and habitats. The protection of species and habitats is assured in Specially Protected Nature Territories and at Natura 2000 sites and micro-reserves.

 

Figure 4

Fig4_protected_species

 

Table 1. NUMBER OF SPECIES AND NUMBER OF PROTECTED SPECIES

Total number of species

Group

Number of species

Number of protected species

Source

62

Mammals

36

26

http://www.lvgma.gov.lv/produkti/soe2001_lv/par/daba/fauna.htm

342

Birds

247

95

http://www.putni.lv/saraksti/lvpsss.xls

7

Reptiles

4

3

http://www.latvijasdaba.lv/rapuli/

13

Amphibians

7

6

http://www.latvijasdaba.lv/abinieki/

17500

Invertebrates

17396

104

http://www.lvgma.gov.lv/produkti/soe2001_lv/par/daba/fauna.htm

1735

Seed plants and ferns

1507

228

http://www.latvijasdaba.lv/augi/

514

Moss

385

129

http://biodiv.lvgma.gov.lv/cooperation/mezi/fol195495

504

Lichens

444

60

http://biodiv.lvgma.gov.lv/cooperation/mezi/fol195495

4100

Mushroom

4038

62

http://latvijas.daba.lv/augi_senes/senes/

25

Charophytes

19

6

http://priede.bf.lu.lv/grozs/LU/LU_Bio_Raksti/2005/Zviedre.pdf


Species and habitat management plans have been developed and adopted for certain species. The plans contain information about species distribution, significant areas requiring habitat protection, population of species or tendencies, influential factors and planned measures to improve the condition of the species or habitat. Endangered animals, plants and habitats are also protected outside of the protected areas. For example, protection of the wild Baltic salmon is one of a number of priority issues. Wetland ecosystems also play an important role in maintaining both the climate and the condition of water. Specific flora and fauna has developed in bogs and certain species preserved there are relics of the last glacial period around 20 000 years ago. One way in which the conditions for biodiversity are improved is by converting agricultural lands into natural areas when agricultural activity decreases.

The Nature Conservation Agency of Latvia oversees the implementation of nature protection policy in Latvia and maintains a database (geographical location, quantitative and qualitative status) of protected plants species, habitats and micro-reserves. However, the database on habitats and species has been compiled on the basis of fragmentary research. More modern data collection methods and methodological improvements are required to improve efficiency in this area.

 

Table 2. AREA OF NATURAL HABITAT TYPES AND QUALITY OF DATA ON AREA

Habitats

Quality of data on area (km²)

 

good

moderate

poor

Costal and halophytic habitats

2

107

 

Costal sand dunes and continental dunes

14

609

1

Freshwater habitats

 

 

824

Temp. heath and scrub, scleroph. scrub

 

1

14

Nat. and semi-nat. grassland formations

 

73

87

Raised bogs, mires and fens

 

1650

808

Rocky habitats and caves

 

 

1

Forests

 

2643

 


 Source: Nature Conservation Agency


 Figure 5.

Fig5_Habitats

 

As a result of climate change, a semi-enclosed sea structure and intensive shipping, invasive alien species pose an increasing risk for the marine ecosystems of the Baltic Sea.


Figure 6. FACT SHEETS ON INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES

Fig6_Alien_sp

Source: The NOBANIS fact sheets http://www.nobanis.org/Charts.asp


[1] Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia No. 17  (17.01.2010) “On Specially Protected Marine Territories”

The key drivers and pressures

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

 

Maintaining the number of protected species, habitats and landscapes in Latvia is a priority issue. As a result of support from UNDP, the EU’S LIFE programme, EU structural funds and the Latvian Environmental Protection Fund, various conservation projects have been carried out and an infrastructure is being introduced to support sustainable tourism and environmental education in the Specially Protected Nature Territories.

On the one hand, a decrease in large-scale collective and intensive farming and industry has promoted an increase in biodiversity and the recovery of nature and water resources over the past two decades. On the other hand, there are serious concerns that industrial and agricultural development and the transformation of Specially Protected Nature Territories for development will have a negative effect on many of the biotope areas. One specific cause for concern is the destruction of coastline and highly-sensitive dune ecosystems which are essential for biodiversity. Nowadays, attempts to set up wind turbine parks or build luxury private housing in coastal areas are hotly disputed in Latvia

A recent increase in timber felling activities has already caused serious damage to forest ecosystems. Meanwhile, climate change, eutrophication and uncontrolled industrial development will cause further damage to biodiversity in the near future.

Latvia is a popular destination for some of the most environmentally-friendly forms of tourism such as cycling, canoeing, walking and swimming. Once scientific research has been conducted on environmental impact assessment and the capacity of ecosystem services these activities need to be developed.

Tourism is a growing industry and it is anticipated that in the future an increasing number of activities will be arranged in attractive, but highly-sensitive Natura 2000 areas. For this reason, an appropriate management system must be developed for Specially Protected Nature Territories to minimise the environmental impact caused by the tourist industry and others.

Some species and habitats may risk being destroyed by GMO technologies and GM crops if these are introduced into a small country like Latvia. According to the results of a public questionnaire (2008), 91 % of respondents supported the idea of Latvia as a GMO-free zone. The precautionary principle is being applied in relation to the potential introduction of GMO technologies.

In accordance with the Law on the Circulation of Genetically-Modified Organisms (2009), municipalities have the right, based on public discussions, to issue a decision to impose restrictions on the cultivation of genetically-modified crops in the territory managed by municipality. By 1 November 2010, more than 89 % of all municipalities had imposed restrictions on the cultivation of GM crops. Public discussions are continuing on this issue.

 

Figure 7. GENETICALLY-MODIFIED CROPS - CONTAINMENT OF CULTIVATION IN MUNICIPALITIES

Fig7_GMO_free

 

 Source: Ministry of Environment – GMO-free territories in Latvia

 

In order to avoid a threat to biodiversity, restrictions have been imposed on the cultivation of genetically-modified crops in Specially Protected Nature Territories[1].



[1] Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia No. 264  (16.03.2010) “On the General Protection and Use of 

   Specially Protected Nature Territories”


 

 

 

 



 

The 2020 outlook

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

The priority issues for nature protection are indicated in policy planning documents and strategies:

  • Enlargement of Natura 2000 areas in accordance with the requirements of European Commission using up-to-date information on species and habitats by 2012
  • Implementation of monitoring and information systems for Natura 2000 by 2012
  • Elaboration and implementation of nature management plans by 2015
  • Ensuring the management of Specially Protected Nature Territories through the involvement of public authorities, municipalities,  academic institutions, NGOs and the private sector by 2015
  • Development of an updated version of the National Biological Diversity Strategy by 2012
  • Applied research on endangered species to evaluate the dynamics of their populations
  • Promoting the exchange of good practices, information, education in the areas of environmental and sustainable development and public awareness of nature conservation issues.

 

Source: Environment Policy Strategy (2009-2015), Part IV Nature

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/lat/dokumenti/ppd/?doc=9338

 

Nature capital, nature conservation plan and a nature restoration fund are key issues and as such are included in the draft Sustainable Development Strategy for Latvia to 2030  (www.latvija2030.lv)

 

Existing and planned responses

Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 23 Nov 2010

 

Protection and management of biodiversity are stipulated in the relevant legislation and in the following policy planning documents:

  • National Programme on Biological Diversity (2000),

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/eng/dokumenti/politikas_planosanas_dokumenti/?doc=3304

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/lat/dokumenti/politikas_planosanas_dokumenti/?doc=5388)

 

  • Latvian Sustainable Development Strategy (2002)

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/eng/dokumenti/politikas_planosanas_dokumenti/?doc=3296

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/lat/dokumenti/ppd/files/text/LV_ilgtspejig_att_pamatnostadn.doc)

 

  • National Environmental Policy Plan 2004-2008

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/eng/dokumenti/politikas_planosanas_dokumenti/

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/lat/dokumenti/politikas_planosanas_dokumenti/?doc=1679

 

  • Guidelines for Land Policy 2008 -2014,

http://www.raplm.gov.lv/uploads/filedir/Zemes%20politika/Zemes%20politikas%20pamatnostadnes.doc

 

  • Guidelines on Environmental Monitoring Programme 2009-2012

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/lat/dokumenti/ppd/

 

  • Latvian Rural Development National Strategy Plan 2007-2013

http://www.zm.gov.lv/?sadala=1016

http://www.zm.gov.lv/doc_upl/Strategic_Plan_EN(2).doc)

 

  • Draft Environmental Monitoring Programme (2009 - 2010).

 

An evaluation of the implementation of Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora indicates that appropriate protection is ensured for 33 % of habitats and 49 % of species. However, it was difficult to evaluate the protection status for 5 % of habitats and 21 % of species due to insufficient information. It is necessary to increase expert capacity to evaluate ecosystem services and assess the benefits and losses caused by nature protection restrictions. The environmental impact assessment procedure has been applied to development plans and projects which might affect the Specially Protected Nature Territories.

 

Source: Environment Policy Strategy (2009-2015), Part IV Nature

 

  • National Programme to restrict the expansion of hogweeds (Heracleum sosnowskyi Manden) 2006 –2012

http://www.vidm.gov.lv/lat/dokumenti/ppd/files/text/VidM_060606_Latvanu_izpl_ierobez_progr_2006-2012.doc

 

Disclaimer

The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

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