EU Biodiversity strategy

To report on progress to the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy, the European Commission extracted relevant information from the EU Member States’ 5th national reports to the CBD. Of the 5 countries which had not finalized their national reports at the time of the synthesis (26th of August 2015), Greece, Malta, Portugal and Lithuania provided information to be included in the synthesis.

The 5th national reports were examined, and relevant information on selected actions under Targets 1-6 of the EU biodiversity strategy was directly copied. Thus, the information presented here is in the original language and wording of the 5th national reports.

The focus was on information that is particular to the respective Member State rather than referencing EU wide information. In addition, only information that is not directly reported to the European Commission by Member States was retrieved from the reports. Each Member State had the opportunity to review the synthesis of its report and to provide additional input. For more information, please view here. The 5th national report for Latvia can be downloaded here.

In addition to the country synthesis which is shown below, Latvia provided information on the cross-linkages between their national strategy and the European and global biodiversity targets.

EU target 1

Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives

(Please note that information from Member States in relation to Action 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to Action 1a has not been included in this report)

Action 1b: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

  • The Land Use Policy Concept (adopted in 2010) is a medium term policy planning document defining targets, principles and results of land use policy, problems to be solved and necessary actions.
  • This Concept includes biodiversity issues to some extent, for example, issues on biodiversity conservation in agricultural lands which are not used for agricultural purposes and issues of land fragmentation (particularly forest lands) are highlighted in a descriptive part of the Concept.
  • Conservation of biologically valuable territories is highlighted as one of the policy results.

Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

Since the EPC is a new document there is no overview available of progress made in implementation of priority activities so far. In 2014, there were 332 Natura 2000 sites in Latvia with the total area of 1 224 137 hectares from which 787 730 hectares are terrestrial sites (325 sites), and 436 407 hectares – 7 marine sites. Terrestrial Natura 2000 sites cover ca. 12 % of the country’s area; marine Natura 2000 sites cover ca.34 % of the coastal marine area of Latvia and ca.1% of exclusive economic zone of Latvia. Total coverage of specially protected nature territories (including biosphere reserve) is ca.17% of the territory of Latvia.

  • For example – the network of protected territories of European importance Natura 2000 was established, appropriate monitoring programme of Natura 2000 site was developed and is being implemented, species conservation plans and management plans of protected territories have been and are being developed constantly.
  • In 2007-2012 nature management plans have been adopted for 53 Natura 2000 sites (18,5% of the total area of Natura 2000 sites).
  • Until December 31, 2014 nature management plans have been adopted for 126 Natura 2000 sites (54% of the total area of Natura 2000 sites). During this period, eight species protection plans have been adopted.
  • Related actions of The Environmental Policy Concept (2014 – 2020) are:
    • National mapping of the distribution of the species and biotopes of the EU concern; - respective target setting for their protection;
    • Development and implementation of protection plans for species, biotopes and nature territories;
    • Restoration of biotopes according to Natura 2000 management programme.
    • Integration of the management plans into land use plans of the local municipalities.

Action 2: Adequate financing of Natura 2000

Attraction of funding from the EU LIFE Nature and EU ERDF programs can be mentioned as another great success. From 2001 (when funding from the LIFE program became available for Latvia) till 2014, 27 LIFE projects were implemented for the protection of biodiversity. A lot of different habitat and species habitat management and restoration activities in different protected territories have been implemented through these projects, informational/educational materials published, management plans elaborated.

  • It is planned to use different types of funding resources (state budget, EU funding and private sector funding) to implement the activities enlisted in Environmental Policy Concept (EPC).
  • It is considered that due to economical situation in country, there will be not enough financial resources for co-financing in the near future and therefore only the most prior activities will be implemented.
  • In 2012 Latvia has elaborated first draft of the Prioritised action framework as provided in the Article 8 of the EU Habitats directive. The Prioritised action framework includes listing of the priority actions to be implemented as well as estimates of the necessary funding and possible sources. The findings and information of the PAF have be used for the planning of the usage of the EU Structural funds 2014–2020 and the state budget.
  • A lot of different habitat and species habitat management and restoration activities in different protected territories have been implemented through the LIFE projects, informational/educational materials published, management plans elaborated, etc.
  • Local municipalities, land owners and other stakeholders were largely involved in implementation of these projects through development of management plans for protected territories, through implementation of practical management activities etc.
  • Also significant number of tourism infrastructure elements (information centers, nature trails, view towers, information signs etc.) were created within the EU LIFE and EU ERDF projects.

Action 3a, 3b & 3c: Stakeholder awareness and enforcement

Research, technological development and innovation: Smart Specialization Strategy, research and development initiatives (2014 – 2020)

Latvian policy for the Smart Specialization Strategy – principles:

  • Effective coordination between knowledge specialization and capabilities of industry to leverage on such specialization, ensuring that building of excellence in research and development is partly led by and followed by “entrepreneurial discovery”, taking into account existing capacity of embedded sectors and their potential for growth;
    • Increasing the knowledge pool in the areas of specialization through focusing, international cooperation and knowledge acquisition;
    • Economic policy that promotes the absorption of knowledge in companies and stimulates private research, development and innovation investments;
    • Promoting knowledge transfer and closer cooperation between universities, research institutions and enterprises;
    • Promoting social innovation at all levels of government and society in general.

Action 3a: Stakeholder awareness and enforcement

  • Overall environmental education and education for sustainable development are parts of school and universities programmes according to Environmental Protection Law.
  • Nature territories, nature education centres, museums, national funds for nature projects and NGO ensure a large part of the general nature protection awareness of the public.
    • E.g. Every person is welcome to report on wild flora and fauna observations on special home page – http://dabasdati.lv/en/ created by NGO`s since 2008. As well as to engage in public monitoring programme for nature objects coordinated by Nature Conservation Agency.
  • Nature Concerthall is aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of different species in our environment and our responsibility to take care of and to maintain biodiversity. This is achieved by using a multidisciplinary approach involving scientists and professional artists from many sectors. As a specific annual outdoor relaxing and educational multimedia performance since 2006, Nature Concerthall was named as best environmental campaign of the European Union 2012 by the EU “Green Spider Network”.
  • In 2010, the book “Protected habitats of Community Importance in Latvia – Identification manual” was released, with 2nd revised version in 2013 also in English. In this book, the criteria and methods are specified, facilitating the development of unified understanding among experts and inventory process.

EU target 2

Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

National policy documents and legal acts necessary for the implementation of the European Union waste, air, soil, water policy largely are in place. In the same time a full achievement of the Target will depend on practical realization of the policy and its effect on the environment. Additionally an effect of the environment around country and historic pollution are factors of influence, too.

Action 6a: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure

The operational program for the use of the EU Structural funds 2014-2020 provides funding for the restoration of the most affected ecosystems – grasslands, wetlands, dunes and forests. Priorities for the restoration will be set within the framework of the LIFE+ funded project: NAT-PROGRAMME - National Conservation and Management Programme for Natura 2000 Sites in Latvia (LIFE11 NAT/LV/000371).

EU target 3

Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity

  • [Aichi] Target implementation status (Low/Medium/High): Medium
  • Assessment of the rate of progress in reaching this target (A/B/C): B

Most of the sectoral policies can indicate a process of implementation of the nature protection measures stated into their policy documents and legal acts. Including an environmental impact assessment of the sectoral policy documents and projects as a horizontal takeover. Estimation of the nature protection interrelation and progress between these policy sectors still needs to be developed. There are legal regulations prescribing requirements for protection of certain structures, e.g.:

  • Protection of sea shores and rivers with their banks;
  • Requirements for fishery - catching, utilization, research, conservation, enhancement and monitoring of fish resources in inland and territorial marine waters;
  • Requirements for forestry – preservation of dead wood and trees from previous forest stand generation, restrictions for cutting of forest patches allocated in certain distance from forest massifs, limited cutting on river banks;
  • Hunting conditions – to ensure the protection and preservation of the population of game animal species and their habitat;
  • Legislation on agriculture and rural development to facilitate sustainable agriculture and rural development;
  • Requirements for species reintroduction for the preservation and restoration of the species;
  • Protection of alleys etc.

Target 3a: Agriculture

Regarding agricultural ecosystems - Latvian Farmland Bird index (LFBI) is important complex indicator which describes biodiversity in Latvian rural landscape. After 2004 LFBI was decreasing and there was a concern that negative changes are related to intensification of rural farming and insufficient activities in improvement of environment conditions in agricultural lands. In overall LFBI has been changing around same level as in 1995. [3] Natural and extensively managed grasslands are biologically the most important, but nowadays they cover only 0.3% from the country’s territory. These territories traditionally were managed by grazing and mowing, the extent of which has significantly reduced. Main threats to biodiversity in agricultural lands are: polarization of agricultural landscape, overgrowing due to lack of management, melioration etc.

Target 3b: Forestry

As to the forests - indicators show that the total forest area and area of stocked forest land is increasing which is mainly related to overgrowing of agricultural land. There is also disproportion in age structure for the dominant tree species – young and middle aged stands are proportionally more than old stands. Such stand age structure does not ensure presence of uneven-aged trees in forest and continuity of plant and animal species related to them. In many cases forest is seen as the only income for inhabitants of the countryside, and this approach leads to unsustainable use of forests. Other factors with negative impact on forest biodiversity: melioration, construction of forest roads, lack of natural disturbance (e.g. burning) in particular forest habitats.

Action 8: Environmental public goods in the CAP and GAEC cross-compliance

  • [Aichi] Target implementation status (Low/Medium/High): Low
  • Assessment of the rate of progress in reaching this target (A/B/C): A
    • Related actions of The Environmental Policy Concept (2014 – 2020) are:
    • National mapping of the distribution of the species and biotopes of the EU concern;
    • Respective target setting for their protection;
    • Development and implementation of protection plans for species, biotopes and nature territories;
    • Restoration of biotopes according to Natura 2000 management programme.
    • Integration of the management plans into land use plans of the local municipalities

An important policy area to sustain the biodiversity within the agriculture land will be the implementation of the greening of the European Union Common Agriculture Policy payments.

(information is also included under EU Target 1)

Action 11a & 11b: Forest holders and biodiversity

Although the proportion of land area covered by forests shrank worldwide to 30% in 2000, in Latvia 45% of the territory is covered by forests. Latvia is one of the most wooded countries in Europe, with per capita forest area exceeding the European average 4.5 times. Forests play a major role in the Latvian economy, they reduce the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, and they provide opportunities for recreation.

The main objectives of Latvia’s forest policy are:

  • To protect the biological diversity and quality of Latvia’s forests in order to maintain a positive climate and water regimen, and to prevent soil desiccation;
  • To support afforestation of non-arable land in order to increase absorption of carbon dioxide (to purify the air);
  • To promote exploitation of wood and wood products;
  • To educate forest owners, managers and the public about the biological diversity and ecological importance of forests.

EU target 4

Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment

Action

14a & 14b: Adverse impacts on fish stocks, species, habitats and ecosystems

National implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy of the European Union is an everyday process and national policy documents and legal acts largely are in place. In the same time a full achievement of the Target will depend on practical implementation of the policy and ecosystem based approaches.

A full implementation of existing national river basin management plans and their development for 2016-2021 as well as elaboration of Marine Strategy are planned by Environmental Policy Concept (2014 – 2020).

There are legal regulations prescribing requirements for protection of certain structures, e.g.:

  • Protection of sea shores and rivers with their banks;
  • Requirements for fishery - catching, utilization, research, conservation, enhancement and monitoring of fish resources in inland and territorial marine waters.

EU target 5

Combat Invasive Alien Species

Target will be approached according to new regulation of the European Union, the EU biodiversity strategy and by use of the existing national experience and data of the monitoring and research.

EU target 6

Help avert global biodiversity loss

Action 17a: Drivers of biodiversity loss

There are no specific national targets and indicators developed to evaluate overall realization of the [Aichi] Target 3. Incentives related to Target can be viewed as part of nature protection policy itself and its integration into sectoral policies (including [Aichi] Target 2, 7 as well as actions planned by EU biodiversity strategy to 2020). A green budget reform including right subsidies is suggested by „Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030”. The Environmental Policy Concept (2014 – 2020) plans for more direct use of the finances of the natural resources tax to the environmental benefit. Financial compensations for having strict nature protection zones and EU payments for management of the biologically valuable grasslands and Natura 2000 forests for land owners are part of activities dedicated for the Target.

The EPC includes also the target for the resource mobilization for the implementation of the biodiversity related measures in Latvia. The EPC envisages the increase of the funding for the protection of biodiversity from 14 euro/ha/year (in 2013) to 50 euro/ha/year (in 2020), taking into account all available sources of funding.

The capitalization of nature resources is suggested by Sustainable Development Strategy of Latvia until 2030.

Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation

An annual development assistance (contributions to international nature protection agreements and international development projects) of about 30 000 Euro can be reported in the period from 2006 to 2010.

Action 20: Access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits

  • [Aichi] Target implementation status (Low/Medium/High): Medium
  • Assessment of the rate of progress in reaching this target (A/B/C): B

The existing policy implementation of the international agreements and national policy for genetic diversity will be supplemented with the measures of the Nagoya Protocol.

The Nagoya Protocol will be implemented according to respective regulation of the European Union and to the Protocol itself.