A habitat management plan for Latvia drawn up in 2003 outlines the priority areas for urgent management activities: Cena, Stikli, Klani and Veseta Mires. The sites are nationally and internationally important as include habitats and species of both Latvian and European concern. Cena Mire and Stikli Mires are included in the EU list of Important Bird Areas (IBA). The total area of the project sites – Cena, Stikli, Klani and Veseta Mires Nature Reserves – comprises 9947 ha of which 501 ha are in critical need of management.
In total 13 habitats and seven species of the Habitat Directive Annex I can be found in the project sites, including four priority habitats. These habitats are home to 28 species included in the Birds Directive Annex I, two of which are priority bird species (Crex crex and Aquila pomarina). In the project sites the active raised bog habitats have been damaged by drainage, and restoration of the natural hydrological regime is needed.
The project aimed to carry out the priority conservation and management activities for the mires as included in the Mire Habitat Management Plan for Latvia of 2003.
The specific aims were to:
- Draw up four management plans and regulatory documents;
- Carry out restoration measures on active raised bog at three project sites (320 ha of raised bog restored), on 91 ha of transition mires and quaking bogs;
- Maintain and manage 1 ha of Fennoscandian mineral-rich springs and spring fens, and 61 ha of western taiga;
- Educate the local population about the conservation and value of the project sites;
- Exchange knowledge among protected area managers.
The project achieved very good results in all every aspect: management planning, direct habitat management and raising of public awareness of the target mire habitats of EU importance, project sites and Natura 2000 network.
The management plans prepared by the project and approved by the government’s environment department for all four project sites (Cena Mire, Stikli Mires, Klani Mire and Veseta Floodplain Mire Nature Reserves) have set management goals and measures for these Natura 2000 sites for the next 10 years. Project management activities were very effective.
The greatest success of the project was bringing to an end the desiccation of the active raised bog habitats over an area of 320 ha by building dams on the drainage ditches in the project sites Cena Mire, Stikli Mires and Klani Mire. After raising the water level the degradation of the raised bog habitats was stopped. The results of the project monitoring activities show that the condition of the target priority habitats of EU importance – active raised bogs and bog woodland – has substantially improved and the typical raised bog species have started to re-establish themselves in the degraded areas.
Additionally 4.9 ha of transition mires and quaking bogs and Fennoscandian mineral-rich springs and spring fens were restored in the project site Veseta Foodplain Mire, and 64.9 ha of Western taiga forests were managed in Stikli Mires and Klani Mire.
Dissemination activities included the production of materials in mostly Latvian and English: a general booklet about the project and four site booklets were published and distributed during different public events. The materials for the teachers and schoolchildren, including a field guide for mire excursions and colourful drawings, was also produced and distributed to the local schools. The guidelines on the conservation and management of mire habitats and species, ‘Mire Conservation and Management in Especially Protected Nature Areas of Latvia’, was another important output of the project; it serves as a very useful guidance tool for similar activities in the future. Finally, the project layman’s report was produced and distributed to participants of the final seminars, project partners, stakeholders and other interested parties.
A nature trail and a watching tower were established at two project sites – the Cena Mire and the Stikli Mires complex. Along the nature trails attractive information boards and signs about the LIFE project and mire habitats and species were set up. Both trails are of a great interest for the visitors and have become a popular eco-tourism destination in all seasons.Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report (see "Read more" section).