North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve

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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 (Latvian: Ziemeļvidzemes biosfēras rezervāts) is the only biosphere reserve in Latvia, located in the northern Vidzeme region along the border with Estonia.[1]

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,[2] one nature park[3] and two marine protected areas.[4][5]

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 where the Salaca river has especially impressive canyons including the locally famous echo cliff Skaņaiskalns. The longest natural caves of Latvia, the more than 300 m long Dauģēni or X caves are located at Salaca.[6]
  • Vidzeme beach - pristine, sandy beaches with sandstone cliffs, waterfalls and boulders
  • Burtnieks Lake


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. It is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

The central administration is located in the seaside town of Salacgrīva, in a renovated historical building. It has a staff of 11 people. Some members of the staff are seated in other areas of the vast reserve.

Main statistics[edit]

  • 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. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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
  3. ^ Nature park: Salacas upes ieleja
  4. ^ Marine protected areas: Ainaži-Salacgrīva, Vitrupe-Tūja
  5. ^
  6. ^ Daugeni Big cave (The Big X cave)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 57°33′33″N 24°33′33″E / 57.55917°N 24.55917°E / 57.55917; 24.55917