Latvia, the midmost country among the Baltic states, is located in North-eastern Europe on the east coast of the Baltic Sea. It consists of fertile lowland plains and moderate hills, crossed by an extensive network of rivers. There are thousands of lakes and hundreds of kilometres of seashore lined by pine forests, dunes and long white sand beaches. A typical Latvian landscape is a mosaic of vast forests interspersed by fields, farmsteads and pastures. Amid the fields of arable land, birch groves and wooded clusters constitute habitats for numerous plants and animals.
Altogether, approximately 27 700 flora and fauna species have been registered in Latvia. Many of them are endangered in Europe. The national bird is white wagtail (Motacilla alba).
Latvia has a long tradition of nature conservation. The first proposals for conservation were raised in the 1900s and the first Latvian protected area was the Moricsala Reserve in the Kurzeme region.
Today, there are 4 national parks, 4 nature reserves, 1 biosphere reserve, 42 nature parks, 9 protected landscape areas, 259 restricted areas and 7 protected maritime territories. In addition, 327 Natura2000 territories cover 12 per cent of the country’s total area. Together, all these territories protect a wide variety of habitats and endangered species thereby maintaining and conserving the biological biodiversity in Latvia.
Since 1 June 2009, the implementation of a unified nature conservation policy and supervision of all nature protected areas is the responsibility of Latvia Nature Conservation Agency.