Diversity of Ecosystems
Presently forests cover 44.1% of the territory of Latvia. 22.4% of the forests are on wet soils, about 20% are on drained soils. High diversity of forest types and mosaic distribution is characteristic.
Relatively large areas are occupied by mixed and deciduous stands. The dominating species in 39% of the total forest area is Scots Pine Pinus sylvestris, and in 21% - Norway Spruce (Picea abies). Among deciduous trees, the most common species are Silver Birch (Betula pendula), Downy Birch (B. pubescens) - dominating species in 28% of forest area, Common Alder (Alnus incana) - 6%, Aspen (Populus tremula) - 3%, Black Alder (A. glutinosa) - 2%, Hardwoods (Pedunculate Oak Quercus robur, Ash Fraxinus excelsior etc.) - 1%. Mature (old) stands, which are particularly important for maintenance of biological diversity, occupy 8% of the total forest area. In general, forests contain a high biodiversity due to different soil and hydrological conditions, as well as to rather large areas where intensive forestry methods have not been applied during the last 50 years.
There are old hunting traditions in Latvia. Many of species endangered in Western Europe (beavers, wolfs, lynx, martens) have large and stable populations in Latvia and that is the reason why the hunting of these species is allowed.
Graph 3: Area dynamics of forests in Latvia
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