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LIFE+ supported project implemented in Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve

2012-05-02

A LIFE+ supported project for the preservation of Amalvas and Žuvintas wetlands that has just been implemented in the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve will help to restore the hydrological conditions necessary for these wetlands to survive.

Although wetlands are extremely important to the entire ecosystem of the Earth, their number is declining in the world due to natural processes, climate change and human activities. In , wetlands accounted for approximately 10% of the country’s territory, but shrank to less than a third of the previous area as a result of larger-scale drainage works started in the 19th century. It is therefore very important to save at least the existing wetlands.

Žuvintas is the largest wetland in the country (6847 ha). Amalvas, another wetland protected in the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve is much smaller. It was severely drained in the second half of the 20th century and its area shrank from 3414 ha to 1479 ha. Several decades after the drainage works carried out in Amalvas and Žuvintas wetlands, they are faced with increasing problems with the preservation of natural values, soil erosion, water pollution, etc. Launched on 1 January 2009, the abovementioned project was designed to solve them. It was implemented by public body Nature Heritage Fund. Project partners were the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve Directorate, Marijampolė State Forest Enterprise and Marijampolė Municipal Government Administration. The total project value was some LTL 5.5 million. Half of this amount was allocated under the European Commission’s LIFE+ financial instrument for the environment, with about LTL 1.4 million allocated under the state-financed special EU LIFE+ financial instrument programme managed by the Ministry of Environment..

According to Kastytis Gedminas, Chief Specialist of the European Union Funds Management Division of the European Union Assistance Management Department of the Ministry of Environment, most of the project works were intended to restore Žuvintas and Amalvas wetland and lake water levels and regime. The transformed Amalvas polder and appropriate land use preserving peaty soils will help to stop the drying of the Amalvas wetland. Restored ground water levels create preconditions for the restoration of priority European habitats – active upland bogs and marshy forests – in a 1,500 ha area of the Amalvas wetland. Repaired protective embankments and dammed ditches have reduced water runoff from the Žuvintas wetland and stopped the growth of trees in bog areas affected by drainage ditches (approx. 500 ha), and this will encourage the recovery of active upland bog habitats.

The use of the Amalvas polder and the water pumping system should ensure an increase in the population of migratory birds, in particular the sandpipers, and breeding wet grassland birds, such as corncrakes and spotted crakes. Restored natural water level fluctuations in Lake Žuvintas should facilitate the recovery of water vegetation, particularly Chara plants, expansion of the spawning areas of some fish and amphibian species, as well as the prevention of the spread of reed beds and bushes. The restoration of natural water level fluctuations in Žuvintas and Amalvas has enhanced the self-purification capacity of these lakes. The reconstruction of Žuvintas and Amalvas sluices-regulators and the installation of fish ladders have facilitated fish migration.

More detailed information on the project is available on the website www.wetlife.gpf.lt.

Information of the Ministry of Environment, phone 266 3660
6 April 2012

 


Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas