Restoration of Bittern habitats


Restoration of Bittern habitats in two coastal lakes in Latvia (Acronym - COASTLAKE) LIFE12 NAT/LV/000118

The Great or Eurasian bittern (Botaurus stellaris) is a medium size bird of the heron family. Until the 19th century, the bird was relatively common species in Latvia. Today, the population of the bittern has decreased – there are only 390 – 771 booming bittern males in Latvia. In the spring of 2014, 19 nesting bittern pairs were accounted for in Lake Engure and only 13 pair in Lake Pape. The bittern chooses shallow, reed-overgrown lakes and ponds for its habitat, where the water’s surface and reed stands alternate.

Lake Engure and Lake Pape are very shallow lagoon-type lakes that are included in the Nature 2000 network of protected areas. Both locations are important nesting areas of the bittern in Latvia. Unfortunately, in the 19th and 20th centuries, active water level regulation works were carried out in Pape and Engure. As a result, the water level of the lakes was lowered which reduced water exchange, thus facilitating overgrowth and the reduction of open water surface. Massive reed stands, the absence of open water surface and reduction of available feed endanger the chances of the survival of bittern.

The Aim

On the basis of the Species Protection Plan of the European Union (EU), to improve the protected status of the bittern in Latvia and EU.

Our Role

Using high resolution airborne remote sensing data that were acquired by Airborne Surveillance and Environmental Monitoring System ARSENAL, we measure the parameters of coastal area of Lake Pape and Lake Engure – volume of coastal overgrowth, structure of vegetation, classification and biomass of overgrowth. Using Ground Penetrating Radar the IES’s researchers carries out lake bed profiling – measuring the depth and thickness of sediments, as well as assessing the structure of lake sediments.

Project brochure

Project manager: Ģirts Strazdiņš, Latvian Fund for Nature,

IES project coordinator: Rūta Abaja,, +371 27818676

Project is financed by: European Union LIFE+ Nature and Biodiversity Programme

Leading partner: Latvian Fund for Nature

Partners: Pasaules Dabas Fonds (formerly WWF – Latvia), Engure Nature Park Fondation

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