The meadows in the nature park stretch from Priediengals Village to the south border of the park almost in a continuous zone. They have mostly formed between the grey dunes and the forest or bog from Nida Village to the South, as well as at the east side Lake Pape and elsewhere.
Dry and wet meadows
There are both dry and wet meadows to be found in the nature park. Dry meadows form on dry soils where the stand is sparse; in wet meadows, on the contrary, the stand is richer. The following species are typical of dry dune meadows: the Sand Sedge Carex arenaria, the Glaucous Hairgrass Koeleria glauca and other grass species, the Wild Pansy Viola tricolor, and the Wild Thyme Thymus serpyllum. There are also transitional meadows forming as the natural meadows become overgrown. These are found also in drier areas, where the dampness of the soil decreases and former habitats become extinct. Near villages, in places of former fields without a vegetation typical of any of the meadow types, fallow meadows are found.
Small areas of the nature park are typified by the Matgrass Nardus stricta meadows. They are found in the meadow habitat with the fallow meadows. Medium fertile meadows are found in places with variable dampness and are typical of West Latvia. The most common of them on the territory of the nature park are the Purple Moorgrass Molinia caerulea meadows. The Blue Moorgrass Sesleria caerulea meadows are found in an area of only a few square metres in Kalnišķu Village.
The coastal meadows take up a small area in lowland at the Pape Channel. During storms, the salty seawater flows from the channel ensuring the existence of the typical and rare species in the coastal meadows. The acidic low sedge meadows are not common, but are found on small territories, mainly as a complex with moorgrass meadows on the banks of Lake Pape. The high sedge meadow also usually forms meadow complexes. The most common are vegetations of the Purple Smallreed Calamagrostis canescens and the Brown Sedge (Carex disticha). Parts of the Brown sedge meadows are common for the east coast of Lake Pape, where they interchange with the vegetation of moorgrass meadows and marshes.
The protected meadow habitats of European importance are the following: species-rich matgrass Nardus stricta meadows on sandy soils, blue moorgrass Molinia caerulea meadows on peaty, limy or clayey soils, species-rich fallow meadows, mediump damp meadows, coastal meadows. The biologically most valuable meadows are located on the shores of Lake Pape.
Meadows and the former agricultural areas are the nesting places of the globally endangered Corncrake (Crex crex). There have been at least 40 corncrake pairs found nesting on the park territory. The Corncrake is included in the Annex I of the EU Birds Directive, as well as in the list of specially protected bird species in Latvia.
There is also a rich invertebrate fauna found in the meadows. The moth Hydraecia nordstroemi is specially remarkable, as its population in Pape is the largest in the Baltics and reaches several hundreds during the season of the species. The existence of the species is dependent on the Wild Onion (Allium spp.). The areas of the moth Pancalia nodosella, the feeding and breeding conditions of which are connected with the vegetation of the Wild Pansy (Viola tricolor), can be found only in the Liepāja District including the meadows of the Nature Park Pape, which are the only areas of the species in the Baltics.
The condition of the meadows, as well as the conditions for the Corncrake and other meadow birds, as well as the biodiversity of invertebrates is negatively influenced by the overgrowing with bushes. This is particularly a problem in the meadows of Nida Bog. They are poorly grazed and cut. In some places, for example at the Pape Channel, the meadows are being damaged by cars and motorcycles, which degrades the vegetation of the meadow and kills its species.
Meadows are mainly habitats formed by perennial vascular plants and developed by regular cutting or grazing. Their future existance also depends on these factors. In the first half of the 20th century, a certain balance in Lake Pape and its surrounding ecosystems was ensured by the sequence of agriculture activities. In the springtime, when the lake meadows were flooded, spawning fish came in and also migrating birds were using the meadows for resting. The meadows were usually cut after the summer solstice, when the different sedge species were ripe. The gathered hay was piled on 60 to 70cm high wooden stands. During the periods of flooding they did not get wet and in the wintertime, the hay could be transported to the coast on a sledge. The reed was usually mowed after the first freeze, as the ice was thick enough for bringing it to the coast. Meadow mowing and grazing, and reed cutting are the main activities to be performed in the nature park in the future as well.
Since 1999, the WWF-Latvia has been introducing large herbivores (auroxen and wild horses) into the nature park territory, principally under the framework of the LIFE-Nature Lake Pape project. Feeding on grass, bushes, reed and bark, the animals ensure the preservation of meadow and coastal habitats, and agricultural lands for the enlargement of the biodiversity on the territory, as well as the preservation of the landscape of the park. Natural grazing is one of the most environment-friendly methods of meadow management and has to be continued long-term by creating new pastures on the east and north territories of the lake, as well as between Pape Village and Nida Village in the direction of the sea from Nida Bog.