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Coastal Habitats

 Description of the Action - Elaboration of Management Guidelines for Coastal Habitats
 Why do We Need Management Guidelines for Coastal Habitats?
 Expected Results
 News and Progress

Description of the Action - Elaboration of Management Guidelines for Coastal Habitats
The aim of this action is to decrease the negative effects of the lack of apppropriate management of coastal habitats. Experts from NGOs, NCA, land owners and other stakeholders will collaborate in a special working group to elaborate guidelines for management of coastal habitats in Natura 2000 sites in Latvia.  Coastal habitats encompass coastal and halophytic habitats as well as coastal sand dunes and continental dunes.
The working group will  meet in workshops and seminars to discuss recommendations and final findings. The first draft of guidelines will be finished by the end of 2014/beginning of 2015, but the book containing the final version of the guidelines will be published in 2016.
After the first recommendations from the specialist working group (in 2013) the recommended management methods will be tested in some Natura 2000 sites. Testing of management methods is planned to restore Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation 2013* and Decalcified fixed dunes with Empetrum nigrum 2140* as these habitats need special attention and specific management.
The management method testing is planned in Nature Reserve “Užava”, where grey dunes (2130*) cover 177ha of the protected territory area. Habitats lose their quality by overgrowing with scrubs, trees and alien invasive species – all these factors impact this habitat type in the whole territory of Latvia. Alien invasive species like Rosa rugosa and several trees and shrub species reduce the quality of habitats, and some restoration actions should be conducted. The appropriate management methods will be tested to find the most effective method to decrease population of Rosa rugosa and other invasive species. Some activities have already been done to eliminate invasive species on dunes before,however, all previous experiments have been ineffective. With the testing it will be possible to find effective management methods to eliminate invasive species while preserving sensitive habitats as new scientific research on this topic has been published recently.
The managed/restored areas will be used as demonstration sites for land-owners, managers and other stakeholders in order to provide practical information on how to organise such activities elsewhere.
 Why do We Need Management Guidelines for Coastal Habitats?
Coastal habitats are widely distributed along the Baltic Sea coast and many of them have the highest importance in several Natura 2000 sites in Latvia and in EU. Overgrowth, alien invasive species, lack of natural disturbance or too high anthropogenic pressure have a negative impact on habitat quality. This negative impact can be changed by appropriate and regular management. The guidelines will help to choose the best management method taking into account available resources and priority needs for species and habitats. The testing of management methods in some of EU priority habitats will serve as a good practical example for all landowners.
It is hard to evaluate and compare different restoration actions in one habitat type if there have been different local condition, history of habitat management, etc. The testing of different management methods in one site of habitat will exclude from comparison analysis these factors and will help to evaluate effectiveness of management methods. The aim of the tests is to find the solution which is not only effective, but also low-cost.
The elaboration of Guidelines for management of coastal habitats and testing the management methods in Natura 2000 sites will help to strengthen biodiversity in Natura 2000 sites, improve habitats quality and involve the local community and landowners on practical nature conservation.
Uniting all of the existing management practices into one comprehensive up-to-date publication will enable implementation of appropriate and harmonized management of coastal habitats.  Due to effective dissemination activities of the Project and the involvement of leading experts into elaboration of these guidelines it will be an integral part of nature conservation and management implementation at the national level.
Expected Results
1. Management guidelines presenting various management approaches and explanations as well as including testing results as examples will be available electronically in Latvian, English and Russian on the Projects` website and on NCA website.
2. Approximately 10 ha of EU priority habitats (2130* and 2140* ) will be used for testing management methods.
3. A book and brochure on Guidelines for habitat management of Natura 2000 sites will be produced.