Diversity of Ecosystems
MARINE AND COASTAL ECOSYSTEMS
Latvia has approximately a 490 km long shoreline. A coastal protective belt along the shore of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga has been created (300 m to both sides from waterline) with the purpose of maintaining protective functions of the forest, to conserve coastal landscapes and to ensure sustainable use of natural (including recreation) resources. Clearcutting of forest, transformation of forest areas, and other restrictions are in force in the protected belt. It favours maintenance of biological diversity in coastal areas. There are 4 internationally important marine areas designated by HELCOM along the Latvian seashore (approx. 95 000 ha in total). In addition, the coast is covered by more than ten restricted nature areas, nature parks, Important Bird Areas and 2 Ramsar sites.
Significant byotopes of several vascular plant species considered as endemic for the Baltic Sea region such as Tragopogon heterospermus, Anthyllis maritima, Linaria loeselii, Coryspermum intermedium, Atriplex calotheca are observed in the coast of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. All of these species are included in the Latvain Red Book.
The Gulf of Riga and Irbe Strait are the waterfowls wintering places of international importance (see also Species richness and reduction of biodiversity).
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