Motorcycles a pressing problem in forests of Latvia

Ložmetējlkalns or the "Machine-gun Hill", where the so-called Christmas battles took place during World War I, is a cultural and historic place to protect, however, it has been ravaged by motorcycle riders over several years, reports Latvian television's 4. studija broadcast on October 15. 

4. studija was contacted by Ieva, who had gone on a hike to Ložmetējkalns and was in tears when she saw the forest and dune.  As far back as 8 years ago, a video posted YouTube showed young men on bikes having fun in the long dune, the site where Christmas battles took place during World War I in 1916. By now, the same dune looks miserable. It's obvious motorcyclists have been raging here.

“We were very saddened by this sight of what the dune looks like after human activities. Very deep trails have been left [..]. Unfortunately, there are no guards here so they can continue the devastation,“ Ieva said. “People are irresponsible. This is such a screaming example that one just doesn't think. It's not the right place to ride motorcycles. There are other places for this.“

Robert Līnis, historian of the Museum of Christmas battles, drew attention to the fact that the dune currently displays severe soil erosion:

“That erosion that's building up there is just fantastic. There's just a meter-deep trench, sand where insects cannot get past, and you can make a classic photograph: that's what soil erosion looks like. Just unbelievable.”

Ieva has turned to several instances, eventually receiving a reply that this dune is located in the territory managed by Rīga Forests.

Ieva Bērziņā, representative of Riga Forests Ltd, confirmed that the company knows about the issue. The problem of motorcyclists' permissibility has been discussed both within the Rīga region and at the state level. “We believe this problem should be addressed nationally,” Bērziņa said.

Bērziņa noted that Riga Forests has spoken to municipal police, and environmental experts, and also posted information signs. "Where it's worth, barriers have also been placed, but as you know, motorists, especially if they travel on cross bikes, which most often also don't have license plates, can't be recognized in the forest at all. They drive around these barriers and they don't notice them,” Bērziņa explained.

Riga Forests said that this is the third most pressing problem behind forest pollution and fires. At the Ministry of Transport, the company's suggestions on how to fight forest devastation have been heard, but action has not followed.

To stop the untraceable woodpeckers on the back of a motorcycle, nature lovers are willing to apply different methods, such as dragging trees on roads, or piling branches. Unfortunately, deadly methods are also used.

In 2020, for example, in Madona municipality, a man driving a quadricycle drove on wire that was tied across a forest road and died. Meanwhile, in April this year, a motorcyclist was caught by his neck on a rope near Lake Ninieris in Cēsis municipality. Screws in tree roots have also been observed.

The dunes ravaged by motorists will have to recover for decades. It is understood that Riga Forests are currently the only ones who have set up special routes for motorcyclists who crave adrenaline in two highly degraded forest areas. One is near Olaine and the other is in Stopiņi Parish.

However, the devastation in forests continues, and not just in the Rīga vicinity.

Riga Forests representative could not say how much this damage costs the company, but she emphasized that it costs the forest itself a lot.

“Especially in our opinion, it's dunes. We have sea dunes in Riga. We have dunes all around us. This dune needs to be protected, that's our value. This is our responsibility to future generations,” Bērziņa said.

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