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Latvian legislation demands that forest protection belts are established around all cities and towns. The main goal of a protection belt is to provide suitable opportunities for recreation to urban dwellers and to minimise any negative impacts caused by urban areas on the surrounding environment. Legislation states the main principles to be adopted, which include the maximum area of protection belts, their integration in territorial development plans and restrictions placed on forest management activities. The largest part of the forest area around Riga is owned by the municipality of Riga, which, as a result, has two competing interests: to satisfy the recreational needs of the inhabitants of Riga, and to maximise the income from its property. In order to compile sufficient background information to solve this problem, the Board of Forests of Riga Municipality initiated the preparation of a proposal for the designation of a new protection belt. The proposal was based on the development and application of a theoretical framework developed during the 1980s. The analysis of the recreational value of the forest (5 classes of attractiveness) was carried out based on categories of forest type, dominant tree species, dominant age, stand density, distance from urban areas and the presence of attractive objects. Information was derived from forest inventory databases, digital forest maps and topographic maps. Additional information was digitised and processed using ArcView GIS 3.2. Local foresters were asked about the recreation factors unique to different locations, such as the number of visitors and the main recreation activities. From a recreational point of view and taking into account legal restrictions and development plans for the Riga region, it was proposed to create three types of zones in the forest: a protection belt, visually sensitive areas and non-restricted areas.