Mudrīte Daugaviete


The largest area of Latvia covered in forests was reached 9 thousand years ago when forests covered 90% of its territory. The rest of the country consisted of swamps and river floodplain meadows. In the warmest post ice age period starting 7000 years ago the temperature was 2.5 OC higher than it is presently. However, 4700 years ago the climate cooled and became dryer: the prevalence of broad-leaved trees decreased while the prevalence of spruces increased. The ratio of trees was also affected by human activities such as the clearance of linden and oak forests, which grow on fertile soils that were favored for agricultural land.

In the first period of independence of Latvia (1918–1940) forestation of non-forest land was started to improve the economy: forestation of dunes and planting of alleys for protection against wind. To achieve these tasks Forest Days introduced in 1930 are held annually to this day. As a result the forest area increased by 563 thousand ha from 1923 to 2018, reaching 3 383 thousand ha or 52% of the territory of Latvia.

Forestry employees and scientists have participated actively in the establishment, evaluation and management of new forest stands as well as suggesting actions for their improvement. The rational use of land was debated in 1990s when 36.6% of agricultural land 42% of forest lands became private property as a result of agrarian reform.

The contribution of forestry scientists to the improvement of forests include: research on the growth and management of various tree species, research on selection, using the most promising clones and establishing seed plantations, developing technologies for forestation of different soils and the dunes. As a result the technologies for growing planting material have significantly improved. Starting from the collection of seeds to providing planting material for tree plantation and establishment of plantation forests they have provided economical benefits.