Forest Days are a tradition which began during the first period of Latvian independence. Each year, from March until May, employees of the National Forest Service join with local governments, schools and other partners in organising various events for forest owners, local residents and students.
Forest Days are a period when trees are planted, historical and other locations are cleaned up, and there are educational seminars for forest owners, along with lectures, competitions, exhibitions, “Bird Days,” and field trips for students. In recent years, Forest Days have attracted increasing popularity, and forest workers organise events which are happily attended by forest owners, local residents, local government officials and students.
President of Latvia Valdis Zatlers is patron of the Forest Days event, and in emphasising the importance of the forest in Latvia, he called on everyone to take part in Forest Days events in 2009, adding that the forest is the most important source of renewable resources in the country. “The forest provides for one-quarter of Latvia’s exports, and in future, it can be used as a source of energy to replace fossil fuels more and more,” says the President. He hopes that Forest Days are a special event for everyone – planting trees, cleaning up Latvia’s forests, parks and individual back yards, or putting up birdhouses.
In 2009, the Forest Days organisers celebrated the 10th anniversary of the event. All over Latvia, there was planting of trees, cleaning up of historical and other locations, as well as educational seminars, competitions and exhibitions on the subject of the forest. This confirmed the importance of the forest in ecological, economic, social, cultural and historical terms in Latvia.
The central event of the Forest Days project in 2009 took place on the Koknese Island on May 23. People cleaned up the forest on the island, collected rocks and roots from areas that were ploughed, and cleaned up the alleyway of apple trees that was planted last year. The Latvian forest sector has promised to provide some 11,000 plants that will be planted in the Garden of Destiny in three or four years’ time.
On May 6, during Forest Days events, President and First Lady Lilita Zatlere visited the birthplace of Latvia’s first President, Jānis Čakste, in the Ozolnieki Administrative District. They helped to plant an alley of chestnut and linden trees.