River restoration, natural grazing and predation in Ķemeri N.P.
Type of protection:Natura 2000, national park
Ķemeri National Park is best known for its unspoilt moorland, but also has large forest massifs lying largely untouched. The valleys of the rivers Lielupe and Slampe are part of the park. In collaboration with the Large Herbivore Foundation and ARK Nature, natural grazing started to ensure the openness of the valley.
- Habitat types: River floodplain meadow, forest and bog
- Keystone species present: Wolves and meadow dependent species
- Fauna (mega) species present: Moose, Red Deer, Roe deer, Wild Boar, Wolf, Lynx, Fox, Raccoon Dog, Badger, Marten, White-Tailed Eagle
- Fauna species reintroduced: Konik horse, Heck cattle
- Vegetation types present: Bog, meadow, mixed forest, swamp, scrubs, reed beds
- Description: The land along the rivers Lielupe and Slampe was part of a large kolkhoz farm. During socialism the river Slampe was channeled and the surrounding grounds drained. However, after the revolution much land became unnecessary for production and pasture of about 300 ha came into possession of the NP. The park realized the first project of re-meandering in Latvia here. Nowadays, the river Slampe winds through the landscape and the water level is high which results in flooded banks in spring time, as before.
- Aim: Restoration of natural wetland grasslands, natural forest, natural grazing, predation.
- Vision: Large continuous self-regulating nature area with a natural river and stream valleys, forests and bogs with processes as flooding, ice, sponginess, natural grazing and predation being fully present.
- Accomplished in 10 years from now: Large scale contiguous natural areas including a natural river system, forest, bog and meadows, and natural grazing by large herbivores and predation.
- Uniqueness: The N.P. has two areas where natural grazing takes place with Konik horses and Heck cattle. One along the floodplains of the river Lielupe, the other area around the stream of the Slampe river. Especially in the moors area the herds are regularly visited by wolves.
- Results so far: Natural grazing areas on now 30 (from 20 to 2000 ha) spread across the country combined with small-scale tourism.
- Flagship species: Wolf
- Other characteristics: Recreational activities, Research
- Inspirational value: Ķemeri NP is the first territory in Latvia, where river meandering is combined with the establishment of wild grazing lands. Heck cattle and Konik horses have helped to create natural grasslands and forest pastures. The areas have obtained a higher ecological value of plant and animal diversity and increased in its ecosystem functioning.
- Experience you would like to share: Natural grazing, river restoration, local involvement, nature and agriculture, nature education, eco products (wild meat)
- Experience you would like to gain: Intensifying relation people and nature