2021 In July, the experts of the Public Institution Wetlands Restoration and Protection Fund carried out a review of biodiversity in the historical parks of the manors in Bebrinė, Lūznavas and Preili in Latvia. Particular attention was paid to the inventory of mature trees (tree ancestors) and their condition. The aim of the research is to provide suggestions to the owners and responsible organizations that manage and restore historical parks for the conservation of biological diversity.
All these parks are designed in the English style of landscape parks and are one of the most visually expressive landscape parks in south-eastern Latvia. Landscape parks delight visitors not only with their greenery, but also with the abundance of water bodies. The harmonious architectural accents of the manors and the trees of exceptional shapes (for example, multifamily July) dating back more than a century give the parks a special eco-aesthetic value. Well, well-groomed old oaks, lindens, ashes and even willows are valuable not only aesthetically but also in terms of biodiversity - each such tree becomes a separate ecosystem in which life is actively boiling - both outside and inside the tree… Usually the tree the older it is, the more likely it is to be rich in biodiversity. Sometimes a wooded tree with dried-up branches gives people doubt and a sense of insecurity, but it is a vital refuge for a rare or less rare species of fungi, lichens, insects, birds, and even mammals. It is gratifying that in the parks of Latvian manors, valuable trees are marked with special signs by ancient monuments, and the most impressive of them are presented to visitors at specially equipped stands. In addition, naturally cooked or cut tree trunks are left in all the parks surveyed for biodiversity purposes!
During the expeditions, attention was paid to the condition of meadows and lawns in the historical parks. It is gratifying that the organizations managing the parks understand the importance of natural meadows or their fragments for the maintenance of biodiversity: not only uncultivated meadow oases can be found in the parks, but also small areas of meadows. In the park of Preili manor you will find special information stands, which explain why even in the parks it is necessary to leave the areas of meadows for late mowing, which are important for the maintenance and protection of biological diversity. The managers of the grasslands of the Bebrinė manor park pleasantly surprised, in the natural meadow they cut the winding paths of the meandering stream, where visitors can get acquainted with the plants growing in the meadow, inhale the aroma of flowering flowers, to hear the cut of a grasshopper, or even to see with your own eyes the rare butterfly - the machaon (Papilio machaon). This is an undoubted treasure trove of cognitive biodiversity!
It is worth remembering that annual mowing is simply necessary to maintain the condition of meadows (especially fertile ones)! The best - in the second half of July - the beginning of August, and the lush green atoll will once again (for the second time in the season) delight visitors with multicolored rings. Otherwise, the annual accumulation of plant biomass will hinder the regeneration of plants from seeds (seeds will not be able to reach the soil surface where they can germinate successfully), and the increase in nutrients (especially nitrogen) poor scrubbing of nitrogen-loving plants (shrubs, nettles, burdock, etc.). Such, albeit small, fragments of meadows have been found in Preili Park. In addition, park managers should pay attention to the invasive plants that are still "trying to spread partisanly" - Heracleum sosnowskyi, bee and small-flowered sprig (Impatiens glandulifera, I. parviflora), Lupinus polyphyllus heads in areas of natural meadows dedicated to the maintenance of biological diversity and on the edges of forest sites (Preili Manor Park). North American Canadian Elodea (Elodea canadensis) has been found in park water bodies.
Experts of the Wetlands Restoration and Protection Fund were pleased to find not only traces of the activity of the European (of course Latvian and Lithuanian) protected golden beetle (Osmoderma barnabita) in the Preili manor park, but also the success of seeing even two specimens of this extremely rare beetle. In addition, an oak liver of the sponge fungus (Fistulina hepatica) stored in Latvia and Lithuania has been found on an old oak tree. Baltic orchids (Dactylorhiza baltica), which are included in the list of protected species in Latvia, grow in the wet meadow. The park of Bebrinė manor presented a colorful demonstration flight on the football field of one of the most beautiful butterflies in our country - machilio (Papilio machaon). In addition, the old parks have become the habitat of rare birds in Latvia, such as the gray (Picus canus) and black tern (Dryocopus martius).
According to the initial assessment, the studied parks are characterized by valuable elements of the cultural landscape, combining biodiversity of both cultural and natural nature - a rich collection of woody plants of local and foreign origin, species of herbaceous plants, lichens, fungi, insects, birds and mammals. Not to mention the internationally and nationally protected species that inhabit them. We are pleased that all three parks visited are managed, maintained and adapted for visitors. Of course, there are no limits to perfection, you can always find something to do. Properly managed old manor parks will delight visitors with their natural treasures for a long time to come.
The works are carried out with the funds of the international project “Improvement of ecological conditions of water bodies in Latvia and Lithuania” LLI-476 Save Past for the Future (LLI-476 Save the Past for the Future). The project is funded in Lithuania in 2014–2020. Interreg V-A Latvian-Lithuanian Cross-Border Cooperation Program and the Republic of Lithuania.
Project "LLI-476 Save the Past for the Future"
2014-2020 Interreg V-A Latvian-Lithuanian cross-border co-operation program
The total value of the project is EUR 1,030,848.12,
of which - co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund - EUR 876,220.89.
The aim of the project is to increase the capacity of organizations involved in the restoration and maintenance of historic parks in the regions of North-Eastern Lithuania and Latgale through modern and comprehensive land management provisions combining historical, natural and biodiversity values and aspects of the rural landscape.
This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union.
The State Agency for the Restoration and Protection of Wetlands is responsible for the content.
The contents of this article do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Union.
Program website www.latlit.eu.
EU website www.europa.eu.
📷 Photos by Žydrūnas Sinkevičius, Jūratė Sendžikaitė and Ilona Vilcanes