LIFE for Species Project Showcased at Nordic and Baltic LIFE Project Networking Event

From September 12th to 14th, a networking event for Nordic and Baltic LIFE projects took place in Nuuksio National Park, Finland. Here, over 35 LIFE project teams from 6 different countries shared their experiences in implementing LIFE projects and visited various nature conservation project sites.

The first day of the networking event was spent in Nuuksio, learning about Finland's experience in implementing various LIFE projects, as well as listening to representatives from CINEA and ELMEN about the latest trends and changes in the implementation of the LIFE program.

Latvian LIFE project “Pop up” stand.

After the presentations, project teams had the opportunity to visit “Pop up” stands, where several LIFE projects engagingly introduced visitors to their areas of activity. The LIFE FOR SPECIES team from the University of Latvia’s Institute of Biology participated with their stand, implemented in collaboration with the LIFE LatViaNature integrated project and the Nature Conservation Agency's project team. At both Latvian project stands, visitors could learn about the main activities of the projects, receive educational materials, and taste various natural products from Latvia.

The second day offered excursions to three different sites: Hanko, Rekijokilaakso, and Nuuksio National Park. Each site offered a unique perspective on nature conservation efforts, from the restoration of the Hanko lagoon to the bat habitats in Rekijokilaakso. The LIFE FOR SPECIES project team visited Rekijokilaakso to observe bat-inhabited biotopes and various bat conservation measures implemented in nature. Unlike Latvia, bats are relatively common in Finland, but their population has declined over the past decades. According to the IUCN classification, they are evaluated as a “VU” or vulnerable species. Most bat habitats are outside protected natural areas, necessitating additional conservation mechanisms, including compensation mechanisms for forest owners.

The Rekijokilaakso excursion also included a representative of Finland's LIFE projects - dog trainer Tanja Karpela, who prepares dogs for work in nature conservation and participates in implementing these activities. The dog pictured is Tara (a Belgian Shepherd), who assists in species mapping processes in nature, finding bat-inhabited trees and droppings, tasks that would be much slower or impossible for experts without a dog's help. Excitingly, Latvia also has a connection with Tara and Finland, as one of Tara’s intelligent and charming offspring joined the Latvian border guard team this year!

On the final day of the networking event, all participants went to Espoo to learn about the integration of bat conservation mechanisms in an urban environment, as implemented within a LIFE project framework. For example, creating ecological corridors to connect bat-inhabited biotopes separated by major urban roads. The event concluded with a visit to the Haltia Nature Centre in Finland.

This trip was incredibly valuable, providing a platform for knowledge exchange, fostering collaboration, and deepening understanding of nuances in species conservation. Finnish project representatives particularly highlighted the importance of bat conservation and shared their experience in this field, which the LIFE For SPECIES team can consider when working on species conservation mechanisms in Latvia.

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