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Restoration of Latvian floodplains
 

Eiropas Savienības LIFE-Daba programmaNatura 2000

 

 

Full title of the project:

 



Restoration of Latvian floodplains for EU priority species and habitats

 

One of the priority species of the project– Great Snipe Gallinago media

Protection of meadows in Latvia has been underestimated for years. Protected nature territories existing in Soviet times provided high level of protection for bogs and forests, whilst grasslands were protected only within complex protected areas. In the course of creating the network of protected nature territories NATURA 2000 in Latvia 106 new restricted nature areas were established, many of them comprising territories of natural flood meadows. Several globally threatened species are bound to flood meadows, these restricted nature areas are essential for their protection, especially for the rare Great Snipe. Protection of meadows is not to be understood as a total prohibition of any management activities. Moreover, these are even advisable here. The most part of meadows in Latvia have been humanly made and extensive grazing and late mowing are methods that should be promoted to maintain biologically valuable grasslands in the future. These methods would also provide protection for the Great Snipe, increase breeding success of Corncrake, create favorable feeding conditions for Lesser Spotted Eagle. Therefore the basic idea of the project is restoration of the most valuable flood meadows, the process that would be based on the economically grounded sub-program “Agrovide” of the Plan of Rural Development after the end of the project.

The condition of the Great Snipe population in Latvia depends exactly on availability of suitable flood meadows.

Within this homepage the project will be viewed mostly from the perspective of bird protection.

Site of implementation

16 flood meadows of the greatest biological value in Latvia have been chosen for the project, none of them being involved in any other project of habitat restoration and management. All these territories have been proposed as meeting the criteria of NATURA 2000 for creating the network of protected nature territories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main goals are:

  1. 1. Restore flood meadows of the greatest biological value currently under the process of overgrowing.
  2. 2. Provide subsequent management of flood meadows, favoring threatened bird species (Corncrake, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Great Snipe, etc.), invertebrates, the Hermit Beetle and habitats (flood meadows of rivers, park type meadows, fallow meadows with great abundance of species etc.).

The project has been coordinated with priorities enlisted in the European Action Plan for Lesser Spotted Eagle and Global Action Plan for Great Snipe.

Tasks and methods of their implementation

  • Implement restoration of flood meadows in the most part of overgrown territories. Methods include removal of bushes, destruction of their root system, controlled burning, first mowing, experimental grazing. Obtain numerical facts on target species and habitats before and after management to indicate best management methods.
  • Prepare or resume nature protection plans for the selected territories. Preparation of the plans will be based on providing active participation of local residents, public discussions and existing evaluation biological data as well as on detail evaluation of the territory from the perspective of different nature protection experts.
  • Carry out exchange of information on management methods of flood meadows. Seminars, attendance of different other managed sites (including other Life-Nature projects) and creation of a manual for the best practical management of flood meadows.
  • Provide assistance for the farmers residing in the project territory with preparing applications for obtaining financial support within the Rural Development Plan to provide future management of the reconstructed flood meadows. Special meetings in the local authorities will also be organized, as well as individual consultations for land owners.

Expected results

  • Implementation of the most urgent tasks for restoration of flood meadows, covering 2400 hectares in total. It will prevent decrease of the existing protected bird species populations (current estimation in all the territories in total: Corncrake: 398 – 685 pairs, Lesser Spotted Eagle: 21-29 pairs, Great Snipe: 59-120 pairs) and reduce decrease of protected habitats (Park Type meadows (~170 hectares) flood meadows of rivers etc.).
  • Preparation or revision of sustainable management plans.
  • The project will provide those involved in management planning for meadows with better knowledge on most successful management methods of flood meadows, providing both economically grounded benefits for humans and meeting the essential criteria for nature protection. Thus the risk of making the wrong decisions or using the wrong methods is considerably reduced.
  • Farmers and land owners will be educated on chances of as well as helped with obtaining subsidies for the management of meadows as provided in the Rural Development Plan. Sustainable and continuous management of restored and naturally valuable flood meadows will be provided as continuation of the project after its conclusion over a very long period of time.
  • The results obtained in the course of this project will provide considerable help for River Basin Administrations in formulating the goals of water status in the 16 selected sites of NATURA 2000.