Information about Selonia Military Training Area for residents of Aizkraukle and Jēkabpils regions
Intensity of military exercise in Latvia has increased since Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014 and deployment of additional allied forces to Latvia. Therefore, Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been systematically developing and expanding its training infrastructure all over Latvia to help National Armed Forces (NAF) and allied troops enhance their diverse skills. Camp Ādaži has been the biggest training area in the Baltics for almost nine decades. It was expanded in 2017. In parallel, MoD continued to develop other training grounds such as ‘Lāčusils’, a training centre in Alūksne region, or ‘Mežaine’ near Skrunda and ‘Meža Mackeviči’ in Augšdaugava region. All military camps are routinely engaged during training of NAF troops and National Guard. Allied troops also take part in such exercise to be ready to defend Latvia and every inch of our land whenever necessary.
According to definition of Ministry of Defence, one of Latvia’s national defence priorities is to support NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group in Latvia. This is achieved through efficient host nation support framework and Latvia’s commitments to other Allies. To accommodate the training needs of a growing force, which will consist of additional allied troops deployed to Baltics based on decisions of the Madrid Summit and strong defence sector NAF personnel recruitment ambitions, Latvia will need to develop a new training centre. Moreover, several Allies have pledged their commitment to Latvia’s security after Russia’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine on 24 February and additional troops and military equipment has been provided, thus placing increasing demands on the existing military infrastructure. USA, Canada, Denmark and Spain have already deployed additional troops to Latvia this year. Arriving units are integrated in daily exercise routine of NAF and NATO eFP Battle Group in Latvia to enhance their capabilities.
After careful assessment of potential training ground locations, Ministry of Defence and NAF have selected the area surrounding Aizkraukle and Jēkabpils regions.
Benefits of the residents of Aizkraukle and Jēkabpils region from the creation of Selonia military training area
New military training facility will boost regional growth and fuel the local economies of Aizkraukle un Jēkabpils regions. This will also trigger influx of people, infrastructure upgrades and jobs creation. For example, development of Camp Ādaži and its training centre has been very positive for local businesses.
Local producers and services are providing military with everything it needs, including catering, physical health, entertainment, beauty care and other services. According to Ādaži business owners, allied troops helped them survive the Covid-19 crisis as their share in local consumption amounts to 30%. Growth in the region and investments in public infrastructure have also pushed real estate value around Ādaži way up.
Local residents will have the opportunity to join military and serve near their home if they want to learn military craft and defend themselves, their relatives, homes and region in case of threats.
It is envisaged that new military training area will also cover territory rich in natural habitats and birds of various species. National Armed Forces are fully committed to all applicable environmental restrictions and ready to treat environment with utmost care. Selonia military training area and noise from its shooting range will not endanger protected bird species or their nesting grounds located in the micro-reserve. Neither environment nor any other natural resources will be harmed. All activities conducted in the military area will comply with requirements of law regarding buffer zones.
Camp Ādaži is a good example of how military camp can coincide with nature. Regular supervised military exercise is a lot less harmful to rare and protected species than intensive farming. Camp Ādaži is both training area of the National Armed Forces and also a NATURA 2000 site, a part of network of nature protection areas in the territory of the European Union that is comprised of Europe’s most valuable natural assets. Other European military camps are also listed as specially protected NATURA 2000 sites because of biological disturbances that create unique patches of habitats that can rarely be encountered anywhere else as a result of intensive military exercise. Environmental protection plans of military camps also pay special attention to spaces between buildings to create natural ‘islands’ or ‘pockets’ that animals and plants can inhabit.
In its daily activities, defence staff will aspire to create as less disturbance for the local community as possible, while also encouraging local residents to treat national defence needs with proper respect and understanding. Those who enjoy picking mushrooms or berries will not be prevented to do so on the most territory of the training facility. Farming near the base will not be restricted either. National Armed Forces are not intending to limit traffic on regional or state roads. However, some temporary restrictions may be introduced during specific training operations and local communities will be notified duly.
Ministry of Defence will extend the existing agreements with hunting associations and hunting will be allowed in future. Hunting sessions will have to be approved by National Armed Forces and hunters will have to follow special safety instructions for training area.
Information for the local residents
According to the plan for the creation of the Selonia military training area , the Ministry of Defence plans to take over 25,605 ha that include:
- Lands of natural and legal persons: 1034.4 ha
- State lands: 24,540.49 ha
- Municipal lands: 30.91 ha
If you want to verify whether your property will be expropriated in scope of Selonia military training area development project, please contact State Defense Logistics and Procurement Center from 6 July to 1 December 2022, working days, from 09:00 to 17:00, phone : +371 2617 7070.
The Ministry of Defence, together with the municipalities of Aizkraukle and Jēkabpils regions plan to organize a meeting with residents to explain the development of the military training area and provide answers to questions.