Protected areas are geographically specified sites and areas under special protection of the state. The major objective of establishing protected areas is to protect and conserve the diversity of nature: rare natural ecosystems, habitats for specially protected species, peculiar and aesthetically appealing landscapes and the landscape traditional for Latvia, the geological and geomorphologic sites and features, etc.
The nature reserves, national parks, and biosphere reserves are established following the act of law adopted by the Saeima (Parliament). Such protection categories as protected landscape areas, conservancy areas, nature parks, and nature monuments are established following a decision of the Cabinet of Ministers. The SFS determines the legal status of such protection categories as microreserves and specially protected forest compartments. In most of the protected areas along with restrictions on forest management there are also restrictions on other types of activities.
As of the beginning of 2004, the management guidelines for woodland key habitats (WKH) were worked out for use in planning the WKH management. The management activities, like felling trees in the respective objects, started at the end of 2004. As of now, identified are totally 52 objects all over the country for the demonstrations of WKH management. The management plans for them envisage a variety of activities as removing the admixture of spruce, establishing buffer zones, controlled burning, etc.