The Nature Park “Piejura”, a NATURE 2000 site, is a Specially Protected Natural Area of European importance. At present, it occupies an area of 4,103 hectares, out of which 1,265.7 hectares (~31%) are located within the administrative boundaries of the city of Riga but continuing part in administrative territories of two neighbouring municipalities. The Park area covers approximately one fifth of the territory of the region which is stretching from Vakarbulli to Incupe along the sea for 19 km. More than half of the Nature Park territory is occupied by coastal forests, including the rivers and lakes, as well as the coastline. The Park is unique for its habitat diversity, it has 10 habitats that are protected in Europe as well as rare and protected species of plants, birds, and animals. The management and administration of this specially protected nature territory is carried out by the Nature Conservation Board, which is an institution subordinate to the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development. Therefore, the good experience of the project is the ability of the many stakeholders to collaborate successfully. The City Development Department of Riga City Council in the territory of the Nature Park “Piejura” (Natura 2000 site) implemented two projects: “Construction and Reconstruction of Infrastructure Reducing the Anthropogenic Load in the Nature Park “Piejura” (Natura 2000 site)” and LIFE CoHaBit “Coastal habitat conservation in Nature Park “Piejūra”.
The main aim for both of projects was to reduce the anthropogenic load on the protected habitats of the European Union in the territory of the Nature Park “Piejura” (Natura 2000 site) ensuring the conservation of biodiversity of the organic nature for the next generations. Projects were aimed at the sustainable preservation of the characteristic and unique natural values of the Latvian coast, without excluding various recreational opportunities on the coast - both active and exploratory.
The main difficulties that arose during the implementation of projects were related to construction, for example, it was not allowed to use bulky equipment during works in the territory of the Nature Park. But during the project “Construction and Reconstruction of Infrastructure Reducing the Anthropogenic Load in the Nature Park “Piejura” (Natura 2000 site)” implementation, when the sea level fluctuations began, half of the structures built on the beach were flooded and therefore had to be rebuilt. In the project LIFE CoHaBit “Coastal habitat conservation in Nature Park “Piejūra”” the
habitat maintenance also took more time and investment than planned at the initial stage. However, despite the difficulties, both projects were a success and valuable experience was gained. Moreover, thanks to the measures taken to mitigate the anthropogenic pressure, the resilience mechanisms in the city were also improved.
Within the framework of both projects, great attention was paid to educating the public and implementing activities on the protection, conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of habitats. There were implemented conservation, restoration and sustainable management of 13 coastal habitat types (7 of them EU priority) and 2 plant species listed in the Habitats Directive, 9 habitat types according to the Bern Convention, and 6 species listed in Birds Directive found in Nature Park 'Piejura'. The register of visitors to the nature park was introduced with visitor counting devices, which provided an opportunity to determine the load on the infrastructure, as well as forecast the necessary measures for the maintenance of the nature park and tourism flow, while preserving natural values and successfully integrating management in a demanding urban and valuable natural area.