Project “Conservation and Management of Priority Wetland Habitats in Latvia” – LIFE13 NAT/LV/000578

Wetlands play an important role in the essential processes of nature and human existence, without them, there can be no life on the earth. The world pays increasing attention to the conservation and restoration of natural wetlands.
In order to maintain the habitats that are important both for the European Union and Latvia, the project “Conservation and Management of Priority Wetland Habitats in Latvia” (Ref.No. LIFE13 NAT/LV/000578) is implemented during 2013 – 2018. The project is funded by the EC LIFE+ program and the Administration of Latvian Environmental Protection Fund. The project is implemented by the University of Latvia and four project partners – RIDemo Ltd., E Būvvadība Ltd., Estonian Fund for Nature (SA Eestimaa Looduse Fond) and Diepholzer Fen Lowland Union (BUND Diepholzer Moorniederung).
The project aim is to implement wetland protection and restoration measures to ensure conservation and protection of the habitats that are valuable for Latvia and European Union.

The objectives of the project:

• At the project sites, to ensure the most favourable status for especially protected habitats of Latvian and EU raised bogs, transition mires, fens, and spring fens, including their plant and animal species;
• At the project sites, to perform the management of protected mires habitats; to ensure continuous humidity conditions in the mires and to restore the original vegetation, reduce growing areas of invasive Sosnowsky’s Hogweed Heracleum sosnowskyi in spring fens habitats, to clean shrubs in transition mires and fens, to perform long-term observation (monitoring) of changes of mires vegetation;
• To organize national and international seminars for the various interest groups, thus contributing to the transfer of experience in the restoration and protection of wetlands’ habitats to the professionals and general public;
• To educate the public about the necessity of protection, conservation and management of the mires creating the project website and preparing five informative booklets, as well as creating a mobile interactive multimedia exhibition, photo exhibition and four films.

Protected habitats in the project sites:

Raised bogs (7110) are habitats getting water and nutrients from atmospheric precipitation. The most common moss are Sphagnum species, which are the main “creators” of the peat bog. Raised bogs have a very few nutrients, because up to 10 m thick peat layer covers the mineral soil and prevents the bog plants to use nutrients contained therein.

Degraded raised bogs where natural regeneration is possible or is taking place (7120) are the mires, where the natural hydrological regime has been changed or where part of bog is used for peat extraction. These habitats comprise also the bog areas where the possibility to restore the natural hydrology exists and where peat formation is expected in 30 years.

Transition mires and quaking bogs (7140) are habitats that originally are formed in the process of overgrowing lakes or wetlands turning into the mires. They occur on the edges of raised bogs, lakes and boggy depressions (vigas).

Petrifying springs with tufa formation (Cratoneurion) (7220) are sites, where springs with calcareous water form freshwater deposits of lime (lime tufa, travertine). They can be found both in forests and in open landscapes. In Latvia could be found very rarely.

Mineral-rich springs and spring fens (7160) are the springs and spring fens having constant inflow of groundwater. Depending on the quantity of water flow, they can be found in a form of a little lake, a small watercourse or wetland area with damp soil.

The most commonly used terms:

What are wetlands? Wetlands are areas continuously containing water or periodically accumulating water. Constantly wet areas are mires, lakes and rivers. In turn, periodically flooded areas are floodplain meadows. Plants and animals living in water or those, which are in need of constant humidity, could be found in wetlands. Therefore, they are very sensitive to changes in the moisture conditions.

What is a habitat? The habitats are areas that are homogeneous by the environmental conditions (humidity, light, soil, etc.) which are suitable for existence of a particular plant and animal species. Habitats are divided into groups – mires, forests, grasslands, rivers, lakes, coastal and other habitats. The habitats that are most vulnerable and those with shrinking territories in the EU are priority habitats.

What is the habitat protection? The Habitat protection and management are the measures being carried out to ensure the habitats and species inhabiting them the necessary living conditions. The respective measures related to the mires habitats would be, for example, measures to maintain the necessary level of humidity.

What is Natura 2000? It is a network of the sites, comprising specially protected natural territories of the EU. Only those areas containing natural values of the EU significance (especially protected habitats and species) are included in the network.

What are Ramsar sites? Those are internationally important wetlands, protected not only as a bird living sites, but also as a water storage basins and regulators. At present, there are 2618 Ramsar sites established in the world, and they are located in 158 countries. Only 14 of those are cross-border areas, including the Ziemeļu Mires Nature Reserve, which is one of the project sites.