A common methodology will used to assess habitats of EU importance – the “EU importance habitat distribution and quality assessment and work organization methodology”, approved by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development of the Republic of Latvia. The census will be carried out on behalf of the Nature Conservation Agency by census experts who will assess a given territory in the field, fill out a special questionnaire, and mark the precise borders of any habitats they encounter. Every census expert must carry a global positioning system (GPS) tracker during the assessment so that their movements can be recorded and inspections can be made should doubts about the quality of the work arise.
Each year before the habitat assessments are to begin, letters containing information concerning the approximate dates census expert will arrive and how to recognise them will be sent to the declared addresses of the landowners (legal possessors) and to the municipal government. Letters will be sent to those landowners (legal possessors) whose land is scheduled for obligatory assessment.
Census experts will assess only those territories deemed to have potential natural capital – for the most part these are existing protected territories, micro-reserves, other sites that are not currently being used for economic activity. The Nature Conservation Agency has listed places that do not require an assessment of their natural capital, including:
- intensively managed agricultural land;
- populated areas, with the exception of specific territories listed for mandatory inspection, e.g. a sand dune zone within city limits;
- territories that been surveyed within the last 3 years, and have obtained permits for various activities (e.g. quarries, peat extraction sites, etc.)
If a habitat of EU importance is discovered during assessment, the landowner (legal possessor) will be informed in writing. Landowners may also access information about the natural capital found on their land via the data management system 'Ozols' (ozols.daba.gov.lv).
If biologically valuable grassland is discovered on a property, this information is passed along to the Rural Support Service and will, in time, be available in the Rural Support Service's information system.
The territory of Latvia has been divided into squares and a certain number of squares will be surveyed each year.
Terrestrial biotope mapping plan (possible changes)