Latvia, Belarus cooperate to protect border nature reserves

Latvia and Belarus have signed a joint agreement to preserve the unique natural environment along part of their borders, Latvian Radio reports.

Two zones "Augšdaugava" and the "Braslav Lakes" national park form the basis of the protected conservation zone, which covers more than 50,000 hectares. It is the first such project between the two countries.

"This is a new experience ifor Latvia. There have been a variety of activities in areas near the border before involving joint planning and research, but there has never been the creation of such a territory at such a high level," project manager Irēna Muskare said.

These border areas have unique biological diversity and need to be carefully studied and protected to preserve them for future generations, said Belarusian Academy of Sciences Institute bio-scientist Vasily Šakun.

Nature Protection Department Director Daiga Vilkaste said the agreement would have no effect on people living in the border zones.

"The new status will in no way affect what's already there. The Latvian side is already a protected landscape area, and the current rules till apply," Vilkaste said.

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