Around 500 species deemed endangered in Latvia

Approximately 500 species have been identified as endangered in the Latvian Red Book (a book listing endangered species) renewal project from the 1,500 species evaluated, Latvian Radio reported on May 2.

For many species, the main risk factors are the loss of habitat quality and areas, as well as their fragmentation. On the other hand, 60 species that have previously been registered in Latvia have been evaluated as regionally extinct.

In the “Life for Species” project, nature experts have assessed over 1,500 different species in recent years. According to international criteria, a species is assigned to one of the three categories of vulnerability.

“The three categories of endangered species are: critically endangered, highly at risk, and sensitive species, and those of these 1,500 species we estimated accounted for more than a third. So more than 500 species. It should only be noted that this does not mean that a third of the Latvian species is endangered because, before the assessment, we selected which species should potentially be studied. It is also the species that were in previous Red Books, both specially protected species and protected species of European interest,” said Jēkabs Dzenis, project coordinator of the Nature Conservation Agency (DAP).

As a good example, he mentioned cranes and catfish that would no longer be found in the new Red Book.

On the other hand, 60 species have been evaluated as regionally extinct, which have previously been registered in Latvia, but have no longer had reliable evidence in recent decades.

Mycologist Inita Daniele said that the list in the mushroom category would be longer this time but there are also individual species which are no longer considered to be endangered because compared to 20 years ago, there are currently more mushroom-connoisseurs in Latvia and more data. In turn, many newly identified species have entered the endangered list in the territory of Latvia.

In the mammalian category of 39 species evaluated, the risk of extinction in the Latvian Red Book will be extended to five species, including harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), ringed seal (Pusa hispida), the barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus), as well as the European edible dormouse (Glis glis) and forest dormouse (Dryomys nitedula).

The Red Book is a popular scientific material that comes on the basis of scientific research on the state of the species in the country. The previous one was issued more than 20 years ago. Currently, industry experts have completed their work on species research and are discussing the results obtained, while the renewed edition of the Red Book will be presented by the end of next year in both book volumes and digital format.

The four-year project is funded by €2.4 million from the European Commission's LIFE Programme and the National Regional Development Agency co-financing.

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