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Restoring Fens in Three National Parks of Latvia

Winter is the perfect time for activities aiming to maintain and restore biological diversity. Activities such as cutting trees and bushes must be carefully planned to minimize their impact on the nesting of raptors. Hence, the experimental habitat management activities planned in the project NAT-PROGRAMME are carried out when they least affect the natural processes in habitats.

In winter 2014, NAT-PROGRAMME mire habitats expert Agnese Priede has continued mire restoration activities in the Slītere National Park, located in the north-west of Latvia. 5,2 ha of overgrown alkaline fens have been restored - trees, bushes and reeds were cleared, leaving only old pine trees and junipers to create a beautiful mosaic of different habitats. Another ca. 5 ha of alkaline fens and spring mires have been restored in EUROPARC territories Ķemeri National Park and Gauja National Park to gain more practical experience in fen restoration in different conditions.

In the past, alkaline fens used to be more common in Latvia than nowadays; however, due to changes in human lifestyle, they are no longer used for harvesting hay and pasturing animals in fens. Hence, such potentially beneficial management activities as mowing for hay and extensive grazing on fens are rarely used. Also, turning wetlands into agricultural lands, afforestation and peat extraction have contributed to the decline of alkaline fen areas and species diversity. 

Alkaline fens have very high species richness and are a great asset to the biodiversity in Latvia. When fens overgrow with trees, the composition of species changes and many species disappear due to inappropriate habitat conditions. Hence, further mire management activities will continue in 2014.


Before management activities commenced. Summer, 2013  – the fen is overgrown with low pine trees.  

  After management activities were carried out. In the beginning of 2014 - after cutting pine trees and bushes,  the fen has become considerebly more open. Only old pine trees, junipers and a little part of the younger pine trees have been left standing. 

  Before management activities commenced. Summer, 2013 –  an overgrowing fen with a dense layer of bushes.

  After management activities were carried out .Winter, 2014 –  the fen is now visibly more open.
 Photo: Agnese Priede.

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