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North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve
Ziemeļvidzeme Biosphere Reserve is located in the territory of Salacgrīva and includes 60 km of Vidzeme seashore on the Bay of Riga. One of the largest complexes of unspoilt high marshes is found in the territory of the Reserve. The littoral or randu meadowsare the largest complex of littoral meadows in Latvia.
Ziemeļvidzeme Biosphere Reserve (ZBR) is the only specially protected nature territory of this kind it Latvia. It is a vast territory in which nature and landscape treasures of international significance are being preserved, ensuring sustainable social and economic development.
The territory of the ZBR covers 457 600 ha of land and 16 750 ha of the sea. It was established in 1997 and already on 15 December 1997 was recognised as a protected territory of international significance in the framework of UNESCO’s MaB (Man and the Biosphere) program.
The goal of the Biosphere Reserve on the national and international level is to reach a balance in the protection of natural diversity, foster economic development and safeguard of cultural values.
Internationally recognised eco-systems of land and the Baltic Sea shore, typical of the temperate forest zone, are represented by the Biosphere Reserve. The territory of the Reserve falls within the northern part of Limbaži, Valka and Valmiera districts and it is located in the basin of the Salaca, the Vitrupe, the Svētupe and the Liepupe Rivers. In total the territory of the Reserve covers 6% of the territory of Latvia and it also includes the Salaca River Valley Nature Park, 16 protected nature areas, 3 protected nature zones (Ziemeļu marsh, Augstroze and Vidusburtnieks which are territories important for birds, have been included in the list of wetlands of international significance, these are Natura 2000 territories), 4 dendrological plantations and 25 geological and geomorphic nature monuments.
Valuable historical monuments are also situated in the territory of the Reserve, for example, one of the first human settlements in Latvia – the Fishermen’s settlement and the burial ground ( the 5th – 2nd centuries B.C.), as well as the Riņņu mountain settlement on the left bank of the Salaca River.
The most outstanding and interesting nature sites:
• Littoral meadows of Vidzeme seashore from Ainaži to Kuiviži, which are the only littoral meadows in Latvia with a unique diversity of plant species and an internationally recognised bird migration and nesting site;
• Veczemju seashore cliffs - a 200 m long and up to 4 m high outcrop of red sandstone with grottos and caves – the most picturesque on the Latvian seashore;
• Liiv sacrificial caves - situated next to Kuikulu farm on the right bank of the Svētupe river, 10 km to the east of Salacgrīva. One of the longest caves in Latvia, in mid-Devonian sandstone. The length of the main passage, including the branches, is 47 m; the shortest is 19.5 m long. The most significant sacred site in Metsepole district inhabited by Liivs;
• The Salaca River - 95 km long, flows out of the Burtnieka lake and is an excellent site for water-tourism, scenic and with an irregular flow, peaceful places replaced by rapids. Famous for its diversity of fish, it has an one of the best salmon populations in the whole eastern Baltic region which is why the river has been granted the status of a salmon river which entails a special protection regime (fishing licences for fishing in the territory of Salacgrīva municipality can be bought at the hotel "Brīze", Salacgrīva, Valmieras ielā 7, phone: +371 64071717);
• The Red Cliffs - located in Salacgrīva district, close to the iron bridge and the former railway embankment on the left bank of the Salaca river. This is a sandstone steep bank of the Burtnieku series; it is almost 400 m long. The bank is not high, only about 10 metres, but is vey picturesque, especially at sunset. Small, shallow caves and grottos are also found in the cliff; these are accessible only from the side of the river. A tourist recreation site has been set up opposite the cliffs in Ziedoņu bay;
• Skaņaiskalns and Skaņākalna Nature Park – a particularly scenic stretch of the Salaca river below Mazsalaca town. Skaņaisklans hill is a 20 m high sandstone cliff on the left bank of the river with the most powerful echo in Latvia.
To get to know Mazsalaca and Skaņākalna Nature Park better, visit Tourist Information Centre in Mazsalaca, Rīgas iela 1, phon. +371 64251776, e-mail: [email protected].
TIC of Sakacgrīva district is situated in Salacgrīva, Rīgas iela 10a, phone: +371 64041254, fax: +371 26463025, and Ainaži TIC– Ainaži, Valdemāra iela 50a, phone: +371 64043241, +371 29377378, E-mail: [email protected]