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Wetlands for Nature and People

Last changes: 2019-01-30

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Kemeri National Park

         

Ķemeri National Park (ĶNP) is located in the central part of Latvia. This specially protected nature area was established in 1997 in order to preserve natural, cultural, historical and balneological values as well as to promote sustainable economic activities, tourism and environmental education. Since 2004 Kemeri National Park is a part of the NATURA 2000 network.
A view to Lake Kaņieris with reeds and limy meadows, to River Slocene with swamp
forests, pine forests and seacoast dunes, the sea and Lapmežciems village.

Photo: Jānis Vītiņš
 
ĶNP is a wetland national park. Its symbol is White-backed Woodpecker, a rare
woodpecker species living in moist deciduous forests.
The area of the national park is 38 165 hectares.
The main nature values of ĶNP are:
- raised bogs, particularly Ķemeri Raised Bog, one of the largest raised bog massifs in
Latvia (6192 hectares),
- sulphurous mineral waters forming underneath the bogs in the surroundings of Ķemeri
and discharging in more than 30 springs in the vicinity,
- coastal lakes – Lake Kaņieris and Lake Slokas with outstanding abundance of bird
species,
- swamp forests and floodplain forests, home for eight different woodpecker species,
- old-growth coastal pine forests,
- floodplain grasslands, pastures for Heck cattle and Konik horses,
- calcareous fens rich in orchid species.
 
White-tailed Eagle. Photo: Jānis Ķuze.
 
Several bird species threatened throughout Europe have permanently settled in ĶNP, e.g. White-tailed Eagle (4-5 breeding pairs), Lesser Spotted Eagle (3-5 pairs), Eagle Owl (4-5 pairs) and Black Stork (3-5 pairs). Lynxes and wolfs dwell in the vast forests, while pond bat, a particularly rare bat species, can be found in old buildings.
Historical centre of Ķemeri health resort dating back to1838, coastal fishermen villages with local traditions, battle areas and memorial sites of the World War I and World War II are significant cultural heritage of ĶNP. Archaeological excavations in Siliņupe Stone Age settlement have proved a 5000 years long history of fishermen and hunter settlements in the territory of ĶNP.
 
Photo: Kārlis Lapiņš.
 
In order to learn more and use the active recreation possibilities in ĶNP, specially marked nature trails and bicycle routes are created. The visitors can relax on the beach, visit museums, rent a boat or bicycle, use the fishing facilities etc.

Worth seeing
1. Nature trail in Ķemeri Raised Bog (open from 2013)
2. Historical centre of the Ķemeri health resort
3. Trail in Black Alder Swamp and “Meža māja” (Forest House)
4. Bird watching tower and walking trail at the Sloka Lake
5. CEMEX bird watching tower at the Kaņieris Lake
6. Dunduri Meadows with horses and cattle and the restored Slampe River


Information Centre of Ķemeri National Park
“Meža māja”, Ķemeri, Jūrmala
Phone: +371 67730078
E-mail: pieriga@daba.gov.lv
More information about visiting Kemeri National Park
 
Rare and precious wetlands of ĶNP
Ķemeri National Park is wetland area of particular importance not only in Latvia, but also in the European context.
In the present area of the national park, wetlands began to form after withdrawal of the last ice cover. The Baltic Sea coast changed its configuration several times, the sea level dropped down and rose up, flooding the coastal lowland. The coastal lakes – Kaņieris, Lake Slokas and Dūņieris – are remains of the sea. The formation of bogs began after the withdrawal of the sea, when the peat started to accumulate in wet depressions. Over thousands of years, some wetland types have transformed into other ones, e.g. some lakes have overgrown and turned into bogs and fens. The overgrowing is a still ongoing process, though so slow that the changes usually cannot be observed within a single human life.
Currently ĶNP represents the second largest mire complex in Latvia including raised bogs, transitional mires and fens that cover about one forth of the national park. Ķemeri Raised Bog, located in the central part of ĶNP, is recognized as a wetland of international importance.
The swamp forests along the Slocene, Vēršupīte and Lielupe Rivers and the Sloka Lake are rich in rare plant and animal species. ĶNP encompasses the largest, the least fragmented and thus very significant areas of black alder swamps in Latvia, the priority habitat of European Union.
Some of the wetlands in ĶNP – raised bogs, the Kaņieris Lake and moist forests, are of international importance for nesting and migratory birds.
Despite the establishment of the protected area the wetlands are being continuously damaged by the past impacts and the still functioning drainage systems. The swamp forests, floodplains and bogs are criss-crossed by drainage ditches. They drain the naturally wet areas, therefore the wetland ecosystems suffer and undergo human-caused changes, e.g. the peat layer accumulated in thousands of years gets decomposed, the deteriorated raised bogs overgrow with trees, the moist forests transform into drier, less diverse types.
The evidence of drainage systems established over the 20th century can be well seen in the Zaļais Mire with its peat extraction ponds and ditches and in the surroundings of Dunduri and Melnragi Meadows, a good example of deteriorated area with straightened streams, ditches, drained forests and meadows.
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