Life Protection and Management of Coastal Habitats in Latvia Costal Habitats

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Project summary

Vija Znotina
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Project Title:

The Baltic Sea coast of Latvia is an area of outstanding biological diversity, including habitats of Community importance – embryonic, white, grey and wooded dunes, western taiga and coastal meadows. The number of visitors in the sea coast is steadily growing, and natural habitats suffer mainly from the activities of visitors and inappropriate management. To preserve endangered coastal habitats of Community importance, while promoting the development of local economy, efforts must be made to map the priority natural habitats, maintain and restore endangered habitats, manage human activities, and to educate the public.

The aim of the project is:

*the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of 23 habitat types (7 of them EU priority) and 4 plant species listed in the Habitats Directive, 9 habitat types according to the Bern Convention, and 16 species listed in Birds Directive;

*development of the basic framework for sustainable management of the coastal protection belt of the Baltic Sea in Latvia;

*promotion of a network of protected nature areas and microreserves of the Baltic Sea coast;

*raising of public awareness regarding the need for protection of habitats of Community importance.

The Project area is the entire Baltic Sea coast – an approximately 300 m wide coastal zone beginning from the waterline in the terrestrial direction. In areas where threatened habitats of Community importance (dunes, coastal meadows) continue outside of this belt, project actions extend to cover the entire areas of the habitats. The total surface area of the project is 18 000 ha.

In Latvia, this territory is traditionally protected as the Baltic Sea coastal protection belt. A total of 45 % of the proposal project territory is in Latvia’s legally protected territory system. However, at present, integrated habitat protection and management of the coast are not yet conducted in Latvia.

The Applicant is Faculty of Biology, University of Latvia. Partners are North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve, Liepāja Regional Environmental Board. Co-financiers are 13 coastal municipalities.

The following main actions are planned:

*Mapping and evaluation of habitats of Community importance in the whole coastal protection belt;

*Planning of the appropriate protection and management measures in protected nature areas where there currently are no management plans;

*Implementation of management measures in the coastal zone in areas with large and increasing visitor activity;

*Restoration and maintenance of coastal meadows and grey dunes in areas where immediate protection actions are required (cutting of trees, reeds and bushes, mowing, grazing); removal of aggressive alien plant species (in some areas where they are rapidly expanding in distribution and destroying indigenous flora);

*The preparation and dissemination of information about threatened coastal habitats of Community importance and their protection and about the LIFE project.

The main results expected are:

*Conservation measures to protect habitats of Community importance – tested in 14 demonstration sites (including 20 ha of grey dunes and 115 ha of coastal meadows along the Baltic Sea coast, that are restored and maintained) involving the implementation of habitat protection / management;

*Proposed Natura-2000 site network (which is in progress) evaluated; to possible amendments proposed;

*Potential Natura-2000 sites in the coastal protection belt identified and assessed;

*Digital maps, data bases, functional zoning and appropriate protection measures for coastal habitats of Community importance created and stored in municipalities and governmental environmental institutions;

*Plans for appropriate protection measures and management for 4 protected nature areas;

*Conducted public awareness programmes for local residents, visitors, land owners, decision makers, business structures (approximately 200 information boards and educational nature path established in the dune zone, 11 seminars held, 7 booklets, 20 leaflets, 1 book published, 2 films produced).

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