Key topics for reaching the EU 2020 Biodiversity Target in Latvia
Current rural support system either insufficiently addresses or even promotes processes like decline in areas and quality of Habitats Directive Annex I habitats, habitats of Habitats Directive Annex II and IV species and Birds Directive Annex I species, decline in High Nature Value farmland and woodland, polarisation of farmland (intensification / abandonment), and simplification of rural landscapes. A number of recommendations to CAP implemntation and Latvian RDP have been proposed by the Latvian Fund for Nature (LFN) together with other conservation NGOs including LOB, detailing aspects and measures for Pillar I and II. Agri-environment payments should be more differentiated and specific in their effect and measurability, a new measure of forest-environment payments has also been proposed.
One of the major impacts is inappropriate time of forestry operations causing disturbance and loss of nests, depleting habitats and subsequently affecting bird population sizes. Currently large parts of Latvia’s forests “operate” as ecological trap mostly for forest dwelling songbirds. At the same time leading certification schemes (e.g. FSC) do not consider this being a problem and keep promoting Latvia’s forestry as sustainable. Although the forested areas are not reducing in size, they are dramatically losing their quality for many forest bird species.
Monitoring costs of common bird census are not supported by the state since 2010. Bird monitoring in Natura 2000 sites has also received only erratic funding. Data for quality assessment of the national status and trends most bird species remain seriously incomplete. In general state funding for NGO conservation projects has been practically removed during the last few years, and is limited mostly to minor contributions via co-financing of approved LIFE projects.
Designation of seven marine protected areas in 2010 was a long-awaited achievement. Likewise, the 2011 bill on extension of boundaries of several terrestrial protected sites improved the overlap between Natura 2000 sites and IBAs. Species conservation programme for Rollers run by LOB has resulted in good data on the last remaining breeding population status as well as in stabilising the number of pairs locally (25 nests known in 2011).