Work starts to protect rare Latgale nature reserve

This autumn, "Latvijas Valsts meži" (Latvian State Forests, LVM) will start extensive works at the Grebļukalns nature reserve in Ludza district to improve the condition of the very aspen forest which is the habitat for  various rare plant and butterfly species, reports Latvian Radio.

The Grebļukalns reserve is almost five and a half kilometers long, a winding aspen ridge, which the locals call "the goat's back". It is located between two lakes and rises up to 30 meters above the surrounding forests and marshes. The slopes of Grebļukalns are steep, and the sun's rays shine almost perpendicularly on them in the middle of summer, but the undergrowth that has grown over the years, including firs, thick hazel bushes, and mosses, have begun to change the special microclimate and plant kingdom of the nature reserve, says LVM specialist Diāna Marga:

"In the Grebļukalns nature reserve, in this protected aspen territory, rare plant species have been found, such as sand saffron. The species cannot grow in shady places, where hazel grows. We will try to improve these conditions, by removing the undergrowth by mineralizing the soil, thereby creating space for these protected species. This measure is also intended for the protection of various insects and butterflies."

In order to preserve the aspen ecosystem as much as possible, all planned logging works have been coordinated with the Nature Protection Administration down to the smallest detail, notes Kaspars Rudovičs, representative of the LVM North Latgale region logging station, and the places where rare plants and bushes have been found have already been marked. Therefore, the work should preserve the rare ecosystem as much as possible.

After logging, cleaning and beautification of the aspen forest will follow - installing viewing areas, benches, and a special photo frame against the background of a cleaned habitat and lakes. As Forest Infrastructure and Fire Fighting Specialist Vitalijs Romanovs says, there will also be specialised burning of undergrowth to simulate natural processes in a controlled manner: "We we can achieve burning artificially, of course, during the fire protection period and in a controlled manner. We already have experience in other biotopes, of how to burn."

Currently, only a small part of the restoration and arrangement of the "Grebļukalns" nature reserve has been started. Works are expected to last until the end of 2025, during which time the existing walking path will be closed to visitors for safety reasons.

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