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Open air discussion of mire conservation practitioners and experts
For two days at the end  of  September, near Riga and in Vidzeme region,  NAT-PROGRAMME project dissemination seminars took place that brought together practitioners and experts from the Nature Conservation Agency (NCA) and JSC Latvian State Forests (LSF). Both institutions are main actants who are in charge of conservation and protection of mire ecosystems  - fens, bogs, and swamps. 
Revealing the seminar, NAT- PROGRAMME project  mires expert Agnese Priede, stressed the need for strengthening cooperation between specialists  for implementation of mires restoration, as in coming years financial resources from EU structural funds will be available for restoration of  degraded protected habitats, including mires. Both NCA and LSF specialists  agreed  - that prior to taking action it is necessary to understand the mire ecosystem processes, being  able to detect signs of degradation and the ways it can be prevented or reduced  to improve ecosystems  health. 
Unfortunately, most of the Latvian mires are affected by drainage and other influences which should be avoided as far as possible at least in protected nature  territories. These seminars aim was to promote a similar understanding, discuss restoration issues and promote a common vision  among mire habitat management and restoration specialists from different regions.
Participants of the seminars visited several areas: two calcareous fens and two raised bogs near Riga, as well as two raised bogs and transition bogs in Vidzeme region - including already managed places and areas where management is needed  but isnt implemented, yet.   Participants discussed  visited habitat types  and degradation characteristics of areas in order to determine preferred management practices in particular and in similar cases.  Participants also discussed future prospects for each of the visited territory and the need for including them in national mire protection priorities.
Visited places also gave an insight into diversity of protection problematic of the Latvian mires. Not always the causes of degradation and restoration solutions are easily detectable. The specialist should be able to evaluate a wide set of circumstances, to identify most correct protection or management type for concrete territory, as well as its role in overall territory mix in Latvia.  Thanks to the various experience background of the workshop participants, the discussion provided different views and ideas for possible solutions, both in terms of mire as a unite ecosystem as well as for separate components and species of these ecosystems.
Sometimes priority of a mire protection is rare, specially protected  plant species, rare bird species  or it can be mire ecosystem as a whole - with all diversity the intrinsic functions and ecosystem services.  Each case should be treated individually according to these conservation priorities. In addition, management and restoration planning  should always take into account a regional dimension - how particular type of habitat or species are widely represented in the Latvia as a whole.
From the seminar organizers point of view- the main benefit from events held are more unified understanding of the interpretation of mire habitat  and marsh restoration issues which will, hopefully, led to successful cooperation in a field of practical mire restoration actions in Latvia.  Looking forward – representatives from involved institutions agreed that updated list of mires which needs restoration should be provided soon.

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