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April 10, 2012 / landscapeiskingston

Latvia: restoration of fast-flowing river stretches of EU significance

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The Vidzeme Region is rich in natural beauty with its scenic rivers, lakes and landscapes. A mostly untouched natural en­vironment, it‘s a valuable area that’s ripe for economic devel­opment and the establishment of entrepreneurial activities.   Economic development and the sustainable exploitation of natural resources are two of the main priorities of Development Programme and Spatial Plan­ning of the Vidzeme Planning Region.

We are attempting to restore fast-flowing river stretches of EU significance, to ensure the further integrity and sustain­ability of protected habitats and species. We aim to improve the spawning areas for the Baltic salmon, the river’s self-pu­rification capacity and general river biodiversity.

The stretches of river to be re cultivated are chosen according to a river survey, which includes records of stream hydraulics and riverbed substrates, and the degrees of river saturation with macrophytes as the bal­ance of benthic invertebrates and algae.

In total, 20 hectares of riffle ar­eas have been re-cultivated with activities divided into 2 stages.

  • Mechanical re-cultivation, and the treatment of the chosen area through weed removal and mechanical loosening of river­bed in riffle areas.
  • Manual removal of any remaining roots, and the occa­sional arrangement of stones and assemblages.

“In conditions with limited funds and still ongoing eutrophication processes, practical involvement of different groups of people as volunteers in restoration of riv­ers stretches has obtained viable results and raises the self con­fidence and motivation of those involved. When rivers are restored by its local people and serving NGO’s, it becomes a goal to re­store not only ‘Flag species’ like Salmon, but also numerous aquatic invertebrates.”

 Andris Urtans

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