Alda Ozola, Deputy State Secretary for Nature Protection of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (MEPRD), addressed the meeting. She emphasized the importance of the project for Latvia and the strengthening of the nature protection system, and positively assessed the wide range of project partners and emphasized that “ cooperation will be the power that will help to find new approaches and methods in solving topical nature protection issues ”.
A.Ozola pointed out that accordingly with the European Union (EU) environmental policy towards the Green Course, several directions of activity and priorities for the preservation of biological diversity have been determined. “Environmental and natural issues are more important in the EU than ever before. As biodiversity declines, humanity is threatening itself: one of the main reasons for the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is that man has left very little room for nature. The health and well-being of the population and the healthy existence of the whole economy are not possible without natural values and ecosystem services. The importance of these issues among Europe’s top decision-makers has been appreciated, which gives us a positive view of the future as solutions are sought, ”she said.
At the end of her speech, A.Ozola noted that the LIFE Integrated project in the field of nature – LatViaNature is welcommed and launched at a time when the main goals of nature policy planning have been set and specific solutions and measures are required.
Ilona Mendziņa, Deputy Director of the Nature Protection Department of the MEPRD, spoke about the place of the Integrated project in the overall implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and in the context of nature protection policy. She emphasized the importance of the Integrated Project in the context of the Latvia’s nature policy and highlighted the tasks to be implemented in the project, which result from the Latvian National Development Plan for 2021-2027. She also noted that the first year of LatViaNature’s work will be dedicated to reviewing and auditing the existing nature protection regulation. At the same time with the implementation of the LIFE Integrated Project, the Ministry, together with the Nature Conservation Agency will work on the analysis of habitat mapping results of EU importance, preparing proposals on how to best use the mapping results and protect our nature values. “The EU Biodiversity Strategy has set new, ambitious goals, so we must all work together to create a clear and sound nature protection system that balances the interests of conserving natural values and developing the economy. The partnership established for the implementation of the LIFE Integrated Project will be a good support for the improvement of the nature protection system,” noted I. Mendziņa.
The meeting was attended by the implementers of the LIFE-IP LatViaNature project: Lead Partner Nature Conservation Agency in cooperation with partners – Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, four universities – University of Latvia, Daugavpils University, The Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, and Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, as well as Latvian Rural Consultation and Education Center, JSC “Latvian State Forests”, Latvian Fund for Nature and Pasaules Dabas Fonds.
The cooperation partners shared their insight into the launch of the project and introduced the team of experts, the tasks to be performed in the project, as well as the work already started. The partners agreed on the principles of cooperation, the regulations of the Project Management Group, discussed in detail the activities to be performed in the first period of the project, deadlines and planned results, preparation and submission of technical and financial reports.
Also, the partners were introduced to the principles of application of Green Public Procurement in project procurement and the Project Implementation Manual – a framework that summarizes the main elements of project implementation and related administrative conditions. The handbook will be updated and supplemented during the project.