In this time, only 2 years ago in Lielvircava manor, located in Jelgava county, ENGRAVE leading partner Zemgale Planning Region with partners from Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia, Jelgava, Bauska, Rundāle, Biržai municipalities, Biržai and Žagare regional park directorates signed an agreement on implementation of a cooperation project aimed at improving green infrastructure in the landscape of lowland rivers.
In April this year a conference – intensive exchange of ideas on the results achieved during the implementation of the Interreg V-A Latvia – Lithuania Programme 2014-2020 project LLI-291 “Enhancement of Green Infrastructure in the Landscape of Lowland Rivers” had to take place in Biržai. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, the planned conference did not take place in the planned format, but there is an option to listen and watch to presentations prepared by conference lectures online.
During the implementation of the project, co-operation between public administration institutions and scientists has been strengthened, and local government and regional institution employee knowledge has been improved on the implementation of green river infrastructure management measures and examples of good practices. A valuable benefit is the developed methodology for planning regional and local landscapes and green infrastructure in lowland areas. Thus, Zemgale is the first region in Latvia to develop and approve the Regional Landscape and Green Infrastructure Plan for 2020-2027, which integrates the tasks included in the European Landscape Convention, emphasizing that landscapes also play an important role in the cultural, ecological, environmental and social aspects. In addition, landscapes are a resource that is conducive to the economic activity, since successful protection, management and planning can create new jobs.
The identity of the Zemgale landscape is formed, for example, by intensively cultivated fertile fields with a wide view in the distance, a flat surface and a dense network of rivers with picturesque valleys and sandy elevations. Large orchards, polders, production facilities, farmsteads, forest massifs, floodplain meadows, bog wetlands and other important landscape elements also fit perfectly into the landscape of Zemgale.
Landscape and green infrastructure development scenarios and management solutions are also included in the thematic plan of the Bauska city river landscape, developed with the support of the project. Bauska municipality has bought an amphibious mower and cleaned overgrown waterways in rivers Mūsa and Mēmele. In Jelgava region in cooperation with scientists from Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies, a unique study of the Svēte river in a 65.4-kilometer section has been carried out. The study includes the creation of a river floodplain isoline map and a 3D model of the riverbed, monitoring water levels and flow rates, creating a map of costal erosion and pollution. Environmental activists of the region have organized several clean-ups to clean the Svēte riverbed and shores and have promoted boating activities in this and other small rivers.
Practical activity in the improvement of green infrastructure, during the implementation of the project, has also taken place in Rundāle region, where the pedestrian trail to Vīna kalns has been restored in the Mežotne Archaeological Complex. Also, the renewal and improvement of the green infrastructure by creating a pedestrian and bicycle path along the Apašķi River has taken place in the town of Biržai, as well as in the village of Karajimiškio, Biržai district, which is rich with sinkholes. The project partners have planted a new cherry plantation in the vicinity of Žagare Regional Park which will highlight and enrich the local landscape during the traditional Cherry Festival.
In addition, based on the activities, discussions and exchanges of views experienced in the project, recommendations on the development of the integrated planning approach have been prepared at the end of the project. These and other results are reflected in a video film, which, with the support of the project, was recorded in Latvian, Lithuanian and English languages and is already one of the most watched stories on both – partners’ webpages and social networks.
The total funding of the project is EUR 583,300.34, including ERDF funding – EUR 495,805.26.
All the results of the project can be found in the “Project results” section of the Interreg Latvia-Lithuania programme’s home page as well as in web page of Baltic Environmental Forum-Latvia.
Prepared by Mr. Juris Kālis
Zemgale Planning region Public relation specialist