Nature values of Western taiga forest ​​viewed in Environment Day

On a sunny September Friday youth guards, young environmentalists of Latvian Natural History Museum, journalists and representatives of State Centre for Defence Military Objects and Procurement and National Armed Forces gathered in Adazi military training area.

Environment Day of the Adazi military training area was dedicated to the coniferous forest type - Western taiga, its inhabitants and an unusual type of forest management - controlled burning of the undergrowth. Around 100 participants of the event went outdoors and visited three "checkpoints", where they met with experienced nature researchers.

Dry laying tree with "traces" of rare beetle larvae activity. Photo: Ilze Ķuze

Nature expert Sandra Ikauniece presented the elements that characterize Western taiga. Part of the Adazi military training area's pine forests have been recognized as rare and protected Western taiga habitats because there are trees of different ages, including old and large trees. Also both standing and lying dry trees can be seen in these forests as well as canopy openings in areas where, for example, one of the dead trees has fallen. This diversity of forest elements creates home to rare plants and animals, such as protected species of beetles, fungi and lichen. Regeneration of Western taiga historically has been associated with forest fires. In areas where the forest has burned, new pine trees and other plants, whose development is inhibited by a thick undergrowth, germinate in the naked soil. Excursion visited a place, where about thirty years ago in a result of military activity Western taiga forest experienced a small forest fire - undergrowth was burned and tree trunks scorched. Currently it can be seen that the land is covered with mosaic of white lichens and cowberries and also rare clubmosses can be found - development of these plants requires an open environment that occurs after the burning. There also was a possibility to see a rare species of bracket fungi that has chosen to live on a large standing dead pine and "tracks" of rare beetles - holes left by beetle larvae in the lying dead pine.

Nature expert Voldemārs Spuņģis with a pine seedling in Western taiga forest, where controlled burning of the undergrowth took place this year. Photo: Gatis Dieziņš

Insect expert Voldemārs Spuņģis met event participants at the place where controlled burning of the forest undergrowth took place this year. The participants could see how new pine seedlings start to germinate in the burned soil, observe scorched pines by measuring how high they have been hit by the fire and learn about the rare and protected species of insects, such as fire beetles Melanophila acuminata whose development requires burnt wood.

Fungi expert Inita Dāniele. Photo: Ieva Mārdega

Fungi expert Inita Daniele presented the diversity of Western taiga mushrooms. The so-called mycorrhiza fungi mainly live in the poor soils occurring in pine forests. These are fungi that form a symbiosis - a mutually beneficial relationship with trees. Mushroom spawn threads grow together with the roots of plants and thus mushrooms obtain nutrients - carbon and sugars - from the tree, but trees with the help of mushrooms better take in minerals and water. These fungi include both edible, such as Velvet bolete and Milk-caps, and poisonous - Fly agaric and Grey veiled amanita. It was also able to get to know the Blusher, which, unlike its cousins, is an edible fungus, and see several species of fungi that are found in the tree debris - dry laying trees.

Participants of the event also had the opportunity to see military equipment used by the National Armed Forces in the military exercise in Adazi military training area.


Photo: Gatis Dieziņš/Youth Guard and Information Centre and Ilze Ķuze