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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps

Stefanie Maack, Tuuli

Stefanie Maack, Tuuli Veersalu, Henri Järv, Asnate Ziemele CULTURAL HERITAGE PILOT PROJECTS AT THE BALTIC GREEN BELT 6) Concentrated settlement zone (cultivated landscapes) 7) Compact settlement zone Fig. 2: Zoning of the coastal area of Lahemaa National Park [16] There are two main criteria for determining the distinguished zones: 1) the land use of the determined zone is as homogeneous as possible and enables to set the terms of use, which would be accepted by the protection rules in the given location, characteristic to the landscape and support the consistency and sustainable use of the latter; 2) the borders of the determined zones are based on as natural and noticeable borders in the landscape as possible, such as rivers, forest division lines, ditches, field edges, but if necessary also roads, power lines, etc. It was also kept in mind that the zoning would support the protection of public interest and local interests, e.g. by guaranteeing the access to the coast, including the shore path would be guaranteed. Presently the protection rules of the national park are under review, which will bring along changes in the zoning. The coastal areas inventory carried out within the Baltic Green Belt project shows several areas on a narrow coastal strip with a very high concentration of cultural heritage objects. This finding can affect the range of the building exclusion zone. Therefore, the coastal area zoning to be drafted highlights the connections between the changing protection regimes, the public recreational areas, bathing sites and hiking trails set with the plan, which are also related to possible changes in the visitation management provisions. 120

Stefanie Maack, Tuuli Veersalu, Henri Järv, Asnate Ziemele CULTURAL HERITAGE PILOT PROJECTS AT THE BALTIC GREEN BELT 2.5 Lessons learned The data collected about cultural heritage objects within the Baltic Green Belt project are useful and can be easily integrated into different spatial plans. The cultural heritage objects database simplifies information transmission about Green Belt heritage to several interest groups and stakeholders. Once cultural and natural heritage has been well investigated and described, its importance is recognised much easier by decision makers in comparison to objects, which are known only to local inhabitants. The zoning helps the national park administration to get a general overview of the newest information (studies, databases, inventories etc.), draw conclusions and adopt general decisions. Based on zoning information it is possible to find areas and problems, which need immediate action. For more specific information concrete documents or studies can be investigated. 3 MILITARY HERITAGE BASED TOURISM IN LATVIA Military heritage is abundant at the Latvian coast of the open Baltic Sea, but population density is low. Young people are leaving the villages along the coast due to a lack of economical perspectives. Tourism is a great chance for the region to improve economy, but not everyone is aware that the capital for tourism is intact nature. Therefore, the Latvian Country Tourism Association in cooperation with the Regional Administration the Latvian Nature Conservation Agency developed a pilot project to show how the cultural and natural heritage of the Green Belt can be combined for economically, ecologically and socially sustainable tourism. 3.1 Heritage at the Latvian Green Belt The Baltic Green Belt in Latvia lies in the historical landscapes of Kurzeme (Baltic Sea coast and western coast fo Riga Bay) and Vidzeme (southern and eastern coast of the Riga Bay) and has a total length of 496 kilometers. Biogeographically, the Green Belt of Latvia lies in the Boreal Region defined within the NATURA 2000 process[18]. The boreal region is dominated by forests and wetlands as well as shallow, mainly sandy coasts. Most of the natural coastal areas remained largely undestroyed as large parts were declared as protected areas in the early 1990s. Today, there are two National Parks bordering the Baltic Sea: Slitere National Park and Kemeri National Park and one Biosphere reserve – Ziemelvidzeme Biosphere reserve. Out of the NATURA2000 territories, 15 (excluding protected marine territories) are located near the coastline. Economic activities are restricted only in certain designated areas of the NATURA2000 territories, and management plans are mostly still under development. During the Soviet era, military units covered more than 10% of the territory of the Latvian SSR, with army grounds focused on the Baltic Sea shore. To prevent refugees to leave the USSR by boat, a number of restrictions were laid upon a strip of about five kilometers along the Baltic Sea coast. This strip was generally closed to the public, with only parts accessible by special permission during daytime, but beaches were combed daily at 21.00h to detect footprints of refugees in the sand. Only local residents received permits without difficulty. Typical military heritage objects at the Latvian Green Belt are old bunkers, shooting ranges and watch towers, but some more special objects which survived the end of 121

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The Green Belt as a European Ecological Network strengths and gaps
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