North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve

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North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Logo of The North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve.gif
The North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
LocationVidzeme, Latvia
CriteriaNatural: (ix), (x)
Inscription1997 (21st Session)
Area4744.47 km2
Coordinates57°33′33″N 24°33′33″E / 57.55917°N 24.55917°E / 57.55917; 24.55917Coordinates: 57°33′33″N 24°33′33″E / 57.55917°N 24.55917°E / 57.55917; 24.55917
North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve is located in Latvia
North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
Location of North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve in Latvia
Lauci stone on Vidzeme beach, North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
Angel's cave (Eņģeļu ala) on the Salaca River, North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
Historical larch causeway near Matisi village, North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve

The North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve (NVBR , Latvian: Ziemeļvidzemes biosfēras rezervāts) is the only biosphere reserve in Latvia, located in the northern Vidzeme region along the border with Estonia.[1][2] [3] [4]

The reserve includes a multitude of diverse natural and semi-natural habitats. It encompasses vast areas of primeval and traditional landscapes. The area includes 25 nature reserves,[5] one nature park[6] and two marine protected areas.[7][8]More than a half of NVBR terrestrial area is covered by forests and swamps, value of which is confirmed by a fact that out of 28 protected areas in NVBR 20 were established particularly for protecting forest and swamp habitats.

NVBR area is attractive for tourists for its amazing nature values – river Salaca, that starts its 95 km long journey from the scenic lake Burtnieks and finishes it in the Baltic Sea.


From a touristic point of view the main points of interest in the North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve are:

  • Salaca river - with mostly fast stream, multiple sandstone cliffs and caves, suitable for several days long boat trips. A popular destination of local tourism is Mazsalaca. For water tourists Salaca river is always an adventure - peaceful and scenic sections interchanging with impressive canyons including the locally famous echo cliff Skaņaiskalns. Museum in Valtenberģu manor with expositions as Genealogy tree room, 31 Walter Hirt tree sculpture collection hunting trophies, play mouse collection. The longest natural caves of Latvia, the more that 300 m long Dauģēni or X caves are located at Salaca.[9]
  • Vidzeme beach - the most popular site is Randu meadows, pristine, sandy beaches with sandstone cliffs (Veczemju), waterfalls and boulders. There are Salacgrīva and Kuiviži port.
  • Burtnieks Lake -The fourth biggest lake in Latvia stretching 13.5 km long in the western part of Northern Vidzeme. Average depth – 2.9 m, maximum depth – 4.1 m, width – 5.5 km. 23 bigger and smaller rivers flow into the lake. More than 20 various species of fish inhabit the lake. Lake is popular for bird watchers and anglers.
  • Seda swamp and area - great place for nature lovers and opportunity to discover soviet heritage in Seda town. Seda heath is nevertheless one of the most important NATURA 2000 territories in Latvia, with a great diversity of landscapes, biotopes and biology – birds in particular. This is a good place for bird-watching during migration season, and viewing towers have been set up on the edge of the swamp for this purpose[10]
  • Rūjiena -In Latvia, Rūjiena is known for its delicious and multi-flavoured ice cream. Rūjiena is often called the ice-cream capital. They think of themselves more as an art-loving town. Several nationally and internationally known artists were born in Rūjiena. Town has several artist studios, an art school, and the town is decorated with many pieces of art.

Some of the places to visit in Rūjiena:

  • Terneja Park
  • The Sower
  • Madonna Orans
  • Monument "The Bugler of Tālava"
  • Rūjienas Ice-cream factory
  • Naukšēnu Manor etc.

For those who want to explore the nature values of NVBR by themselves, we recommend to visit some of the 18 nature trails of NVBR. Just keep in mind that utilities of those may differ, depending on the managing authority. It can be either carefree walk on a wooden footbridge and a well-trampled soil path, or an almost extreme adventure with overcoming different obstacles. Some of the trails also offer a chance to observe the landscape from different watching towers and platforms. Tourism information center administrated by local municipalities are located in Salacgrīva, Limbaži, Rūjiena, Mazsalaca, Ainaži, Aloja, Strenči and Valka.

Nature education centre “Ziemeļvidzeme” offers nature awareness programs for different target groups. Centre is located in Salacgrīva.


In 1990 the Latvian government created the North Vidzeme regional nature conservation complex in the borders of the present biosphere reserve. An administration was created with the seat in Salacgrīva which started active planning for the creation of the first biosphere reserve in the country. The project was ambitious because the new nature protected area encompassed approximately 6% of the total area of Latvia, including multiple towns, industrial and infrastructural objects.

The North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve was officially created on 11 December 1997 and since 1997 it was internationally recognized in the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. It is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

At the beginning, central administration was located in the seaside town of Salacgrīva, in a renovated historical building. It has a staff of 11 people. Some members of the staff were seated in other areas of the vast reserve. Since 2009 administration of Biosphere Reserve was integrated in Nature Conservation Agency of latvia. In 2011 was next reorganization of administration of Nature Conservation Agency of Latvia. Vidzeme regional administration included such large areas as Gauja National park, North Vidzeme biosphere reserve and protected landscape areas, strict reserves etc.

From 2011 to 2013 was not any staff member who is directly responsible of Biosphere Reserve management. Since 2013 is created position a coordinator of Biosphere Reserve.

Consultancy council consists from 24 members, who are representing local municipalities, governmental institutions and NGO.

Main statistics[edit]

  • Population: 49591 in 2017
  • Coordinates: 57°20' to 58°10' N; 24°20' to 26°00' E
  • Total area: 4 576 km² (roughly 6% of Latvia), of which:
    • Sanctuaries: 184,4 km²
    • Landscape protection zones: 1 600 km²
    • Neutral zones: 1 625,6 km²
    • Sea littoral until the depth of 10 m: 1 160 km²
  • Height above sea level: 0 – 127 m
  • Main ecosystems: temperate coniferous and mixed forests. Represented are all forest types of Latvia, high bogs, coastal dunes, coastal meadows, pristine beaches, natural lakes and streams, sandstone cliffs.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Ecological Sciences for Sustainable Development. North Vidzeme. UNESCO
  2. ^ North Vidzeme in Latvia Protected Planet
  3. ^ North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA)
  4. ^ Salacgrīvas novads, most of Limbažu novads, Alojas novads, Mazsalacas novads, part of Valkas novads, Rūjienas novads, Naukšēnu novads, part of Strenču novads, most of Burtnieku novads, part of Kocēnu novads
  5. ^ Nature reserves: Augstroze, Burgas pļavas, Burtnieku ezera pļavas, Dūņezers, Dzērves purvs, Dziļezers un Riebezers, Kalna purvs, Karateri, Kārķu purvs, Klagatu purvs, Limšānu purvs, Lielpurvs, Maizezers, Mērnieku dumbrāji, Niedrāju–Pilkas purvs, Oleru purvs, Pirtsmeža purvs, Purgaiļu purvs, Randu pļavas, Rūjas paliene, Sedas purvs, Ungurpils meži, Vidusburtnieks, Vidzemes akmeņainā jūrmala, Vitrupes ieleja, Ziemeļu purvi, Zilaiskalns
  6. ^ Nature park: Salacas upes ieleja
  7. ^ Marine protected areas: Ainaži-Salacgrīva, Vitrupe-Tūja
  8. ^
  9. ^ Daugeni Big cave (The Big X cave)
  10. ^ Celotajs, LLTA Lauku. "Sedas purvs". Retrieved 2017-12-02.

External links[edit]