The program is designed to provide consultative and financial support to those owners of private forests who commit to follow a higher standard of nature diversity conservation than currently set out by legal framework. A similar approach is already introduced in other EU countries, for example in Finland where the METSO programme for 2008-2025 is already underway.
“The survey data of forest owners’ opinions show that a considerable number of private forest owners would be willing to have a greater focus to the conservation of nature in their forests if advisory and financial support were provided. The more forest owners manage their forests in a nature-friendly way, the lower the need to use other nature protection mechanisms,” emphasizes Ģirts Baranovskis, Head of the Compensation Unit of the LIFE-IP LatViaNature project in the Nature Conservation Agency.
The Living Forest programme offers three sub-programmes, each having its own main task. Habitat Conservation preserves the most biologically valuable forest stands, Habitat Formation expands and creates biologically valuable forest stands, reducing their fragmentation, and Nature-Friendly Forestry preserves nature in the forests where forestry activities either take place or are planned to do so. Private forest owners can participate in one or more sub-programmes by applying for up to 15 ha of forest in a selected sub-programme.
These programmes target forests which are both outside Natura 2000 areas and outside nature reserves. The forest pilot programme Living Forest will be in place from 2023 to 2026. It will be an opportunity for forest owners to conserve and improve nature diversity in their forests, using their own knowledge and experience, and – additionally – receive advice from a forest habitat expert, as well as financial support. The total funding of the pilot programme is 444 000 EUR.
Further information on how to participate in the programme, as well as the application form, is available on the website https://latvianature.daba.gov.lv/dzivais-mezs/.
The Nature Conservation Agency developed the pilot programme Living Forest in partnership with the Latvian Rural Advisory and Training Centre, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Pasaules Dabas Fonds, the Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technology, Vidzeme University, and the University of Latvia.