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National parks and reserves
There are four reserves, four national parks, 21 nature parks and one biosphere reserve in Latvia. Reserves are notable for their untouched nature.
Latvian legislation states the following: nature reserves are territories not influenced or little influenced by human activities, where the undisturbed development of natural processes is ensured in order to protect and research rare or typical ecosystems and their components. There are four nature reserves in Latvia: Moricsala (founded in 1912), Grīni (1936), Krustkalni (1977) and the Teiči Reserve (1982). People can visit those territories only with special permits, thus ensuring the undisturbed development of natural processes.
The oldest nature reserve in Latvia – the Moricsala Reserve – is almost closed to visitors and can be visited only with a special permit issued by Slītere National Park administration. The reserve is located in Kurzeme, on the lake of Usma, and occupies a small part of the lake gulfs and two islands – Moricsala (the island gained its name from the son of the Sachsen Prince-elector August, later French Marshal Moriz, who was hiding on the island with a small military unit of Russian troops in 1727) and the Big Alder Isle (Lielā Alkšņu sala). The area of the reserve is 802 ha and has been recognised as a Natura 2000 territory. There is exceedingly rich flora and fauna on Moricsala: 409 species of vascular plants, 157 species of moss, 338 species of mushrooms, 82 species of lichens, more than 40 species of birds and 320 species of butterflies. More than 100 species are considered rare and endangered, not only in Latvia, but also in many other European countries. Moricsala is notable for the fact that, for the last couple 100 years, there have been no human economic activities, thus giving the island a unique and rarely seen wild woodland landscape.
There is also one biosphere reserve in Latvia – the North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve. It is included in the international network of biosphere reserves. To read more detailed information on the nature reserves, please visit: the Grīni Reserve, the Krustkalni Reserve, the Teiči Reserve and the North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve.