WETLIFE project is implemented in the Žuvintas biosphere reserve (map)
|Counties: Alytaus, Marijampolės||Coordinates|
|Municipalities: Alytaus r., Lazdijų r., Marijampolės||54° 28‘ N
23° 35‘ E
|Conservation status||Area (ha)||Year of establishment|
|Ramsar convention site||7500||1993|
|EU Natura2000 site|
*Biosphere reserve also includes:
Žuvintas, Liūliškynė, Buktabalė strict nature reserves (6122 ha);
Amalvas, Kiaulyčia, Liepakojai, Paželsviai, Žaltytis bei Želsva nature reserves (3088 ha);
Description of the project area:
Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve is situated in the southern part of the middle Lithuanian lowlands. It comprises Žuvintas and Amalvas wetland complexes, formed in a depression of the oval limnoglacial swampy plain, Bukta forest and Žaltytis Lake.
Altitudinal range is +82 to +131 metres above the sea level.
The climate is transitional between West European maritime and East European continental with a mean air temperature of about +6°C. It is one of the warmest sites in Lithuania: the average annual temperature exceeds +17,5oC in July, - 4,7oC in January. Annual precipitation is relatively low - up to 600 mm, ¾ of which appears during the warm season. The average snow layer (around 15 cm) last approximately 70 days.
There are 3 lakes situated in the territory of Žuvintas biosphere reserve: Žuvintas, Žaltytis and Amalvas, as well as several smaller marshy lakes within Žuvintas mire. Area of Žuvintas Lake is 965 ha, average depth - 0,6 m, the maximum depth - 2.5 m, average mud layer - 3 m. It is only a small reminder of the former post-glacial lake. The lake has two main inlets: Bambena, Kiaulycia and an outlet - the Dovine River. Area of Amalvas Lake - 190 ha, average depth - 1 m, the maximum depth - 2,9 m, average mud layer - 2 m. It is surrounded by mire. The Šlavanta stream falls into the lake and the Amalvė stream outflows from it. The Area of Žaltytis Lake - 289 ha. The deepest site - 4,1 m, average depth - 1,7 m.
Žuvintas and Amalvas lakes belong to the Dovine river catchment area (589 km2). More than half of it (345 km2) - catchment area of the Žuvintas Lake.
Žuvintas and Amalvas mires dominate in the area. Žuvintas mire (6,847 ha) is the largest in the country and consist of bogs (71%), transitional mires (17%) and fens (12%). Medium thickness of the peat layer is 3.9 m and reaches more than 8 m in certain places (Lithuanian peatland cadastre, 1995). To the north of the Žuvintas mire lies analogous, but smaller in size Amalvas mire (3,414 ha) formed of raised bog (47%), transitional mire (9%) and fen (44%). The medium thickness of the peat in the raised bog reach up to 5,6 meters depth (Lithuanian peatland cadastre, 1995).
Forests cover approximately 6000 ha. Būkta forest, located in the south-western part of the reserve contains reference areas of broad-leaved forest with hornbeam and significant areas of swamp woods. In the mires prevails bog woodland dominated by pine, whereas in open areas, communities with Calluna vulgaris, Eriophorum vaginatum and Sphagnum species are found. Large areas of reed marshes and sedge fens occur mainly in the south and south-east of the Žuvintas Lake. Lake vegetation is very dense - more than half of the lake surface is covered by aquatic plants (bulrush, reed etc.) forming floating islands very characteristic to Žuvintas.
However biosphere reserve is best known because of birds. Out of the 300 registered species in Lithuania, 257 species are observed there, out of which 134 breed in the area. Every year numerous flocks of migratory birds use the area as a stopping point.
Importance of the project area for biodiversity
Žuvintas Biosphere reserve is the oldest protected area and among the most valuable sites for biodiversity in the country. It provides important habitats for a significant number of threatened and rare species. Number of species of significance according to European and global criteria:
IUCN Annexes (1996; VU, EN) 8
RDB of Lithuania (E,V) 61
EU Habitat Directive (Annex II) 16
EU Bird Directive (Annex I) 70
Bern Annexes 227
CMS-Bonn Annexes (I, II) 46
AEWA Annexes 64
Žuvintas mire complex is the biggest in the country and together with the neighboring Amalvas mire covers more than 10,000 ha. In total, 16 habitat types of Community importance are present in the site. The most relevant to mention are:
91D0* Bog woodland dominates in the area with 2857,2 ha, being the second biggest bog woodland area in the country;
7110* Active raised bog covers 1855 ha and is the third biggest in the country;
7120 Degraded raised bog constitutes 1158 ha, being the biggest degraded bog area still capable to regenerate in the country;
91E0* Aliuvial forests cover 860,6 ha, i.e more than half of the total habitat area of all pSCI sites submitted by Lithuania to European Commision;
9080* Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods area of 575,8 ha is also the biggest in the country;
7140 Transition mires and quaking bogs 376,5 ha - 3rd biggest area in the country;
3140 Hard oligo-mesotrophic waters with bentic vegetation of Chara spp. - 760 ha., being the second biggest area of all pSCI sites;
6450 Northern boreal alliuvial meadows cover 56,3 ha.
Numerous species are dependent on mentioned habitats. 33 plant species found in the biosphere reserve are rare and protected in Lithuania. Majority of them are mire species. Among them: Liparis loeselii (EU Habitat Directive (Annex II), Saxifraga hirculus (EU Habitat Directive (Annex II).
Žuvintas biosphere reserve is important as the breeding and staging site for 58 rare and endangered species of birds listed in the Red Data Book of Lithuania. Among them: Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria - 2-3 breeding pairs (~5% of Lithuanian population), Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, 6-9 pairs (3-4% of Lithuanian population), Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica, irregular breeder, Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix, up to 140 birds (~7% of Lithuanian population); Curlew Numenius arquata, solitary pairs (~0,5% of Lithuanian population); Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, up to 110 pairs (~10 % of Lithuanian population); Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, 2-4 pairs (~3% of Lithuanian population); Bluethroat Luscinia svecica, up to 10 pairs (~10% of Lithuanian population); Crane Grus grus, 25-40 pairs. Up to 400 non-breeding birds stay during summer, up to 800-1300 birds during the autumn migration; (The total population of species is taken from the inventory data of the Lithuanian Ornithological Society)
Area is also highly important for migratory birds. Large concentrations of Bean and White-fronted Geese Anser fabalis and A. albifrons are registered, as well as numerous grebes and ducks.
12 breeding bird species were specified as representing criteria for establishing SPA. The most relevant to mention are: Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix, Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, Crane Grus grus, Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, Bluethroat Luscinia svecica.
Hydrology restoration actions planned in the project (see the map in the Annex1 for exact locations) would:
Favor re-naturalization of more than 1000 ha of 7120 into 7110* habitat (Amalvas wetland);
Prevent substantial negative changes in 104 ha of 91D0* habitat in the Amalvas wetland;
Improve hydrological conditions in 90 ha of 9080* habitat;
Prevent negative changes in ~ 500 ha of 7110* and 91D0* in the Žuvintas wetland;
Significantly improve conditions and favor regeneration of 3140 habitat in the Žuvintas wetland;
Improve conditions of ~ 106 ha of transitional mire 7140 surrounding the Amalvas Lake and Amalvė streem.
Support formation of ~50 ha of new fen area and ~ 40 ha of transitional mire area;
Improved situation in mentioned habitats would mostly favor:
Active raised bog species, like Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Curlew Numenius arquata, Great Grey Shrike Lanius excubitor, Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola, whose numbers are decreasing (see B2d) as well as species utilizing open raised bog and bog woodland, like Black Grouse Lyrurus tetrix;
Numerous waterfowl species related to Chara spp. dominated habitats as well as alliuvial meadows, like Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola and wading birds;
Species related to transitional mire area, including Bluethroat Luscinia svecica.