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An encouraging study of the biodiversity research of the Great Island of Lake Zarasai


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2020 In the autumn and spring of this year and at the beginning of the summer, the experts of the SE Wetlands Restoration and Protection Fund carried out research on the biodiversity of the Antalieptė, Antazavė, Kamariškės and Stelmužė manor parks and the Big Island of Lake Zarasai (or the old Zarasai manor). The aim of these studies is to provide suggestions for the conservation and restoration of biodiversity to the owners and responsible organizations managing and restoring historic parks.


The works are carried out with the funds of the international project “Improvement of ecological conditions of water bodies in Latvia and Lithuania” LLI-476 Save Past for the Future (LLI-476 Save the Past for the Future). The project in Lithuania is financed in 2014–2020. Interreg VA Latvian-Lithuanian Cross-Border Cooperation Program and the Republic of Lithuania.

Biodiversity is delighted by the diversity of the living world of the Great Island of Lake Zarasas, although the area has become a very popular place in recent decades - it hosts many events, a large number of active recreation enthusiasts, fishermen and recreational families. On the 44-hectare island, visitors are delighted by a forest with old trees, colorful meadows and even wetlands, growing single mature trees that have already become a complex living ecosystem, not a single individual.

On the Big Island of Lake Zarasas, the forest habitats are dominated by natural and planted pine, oak, black alder and birch stands aged 60–140. The northern lakeside of the island is surrounded by a strip of moisture-loving black alder, scattered oak stands in the northern, eastern and south-eastern parts of the island, and in the central part isolated single oak, mulberry and small-leaved lime trees grow. Although most trees are not in good condition, they are valuable in a natural sense - even dead trees, plantations in poor or satisfactory condition are important as a valuable habitat for many other organisms. Trees, wooded, perennial, or naturally mature trees provide shelter for many species of lichens, fungal mosses, insects, and birds, and are aesthetically and cognitively valuable. With proper care, they can serve more than one generation of biodiversity. During the research, as many as 7 trees were identified, in which signs of rare and protected beetles were observed - the activity of a dark-colored golden beetle (a species protected on the scale of Lithuania and the European Community) and an oak log (protected in Lithuania). The dark-colored golden beetle is an indicator umbrella species, so by protecting this beetle, we also protect other species associated with old tree groves.

Specialists to improve the condition of individual valuable trees suggest the use of management measures specifically selected for them: trunk shortening by removing the damaged part of the rot and roofing, crown tying and / or pruning (tree stabilization), trunk protection against beavers by enclosing a net fence felling the condition tree, leaving dead wood in place for biodiversity, etc. Crown tying, pruning and trunk shortening work can only be entrusted to qualified arborists.


Meadow vegetation is also valuable for its botanical diversity. In the central part of the island, on both sides of the racecourse lies the habitat of 6510 Haymaking Mesophytic meadows with fragments of 6210 Steppe meadows. From mid-spring to the end of summer, they are rich in multicolored flowering plants that give the meadows a different color aspect at different times. Unfortunately, for many years, shrubs and young trees penetrate the unmowed and unpopulated part of the meadows, which can quickly obscure and even hide from blue observers the gentian gentian protected in our country, orchids - habitats of Baltic cuckoo and egg dicotyledonous. These areas need maintenance - shrub removal and further extensive (late) mowing of open spaces, which will help to restore and maintain the good condition of valuable meadow habitats. 

The undoubted adornment of the island's biodiversity is a small swamp, which houses a small and mysterious world of intermediate marshes and high marshes, with early spring flowering peat bogs and ripples, and later with flowering marsh and sagebrushes A blue-leaf willow protected in Lithuania ... Part of the swamp was destroyed in the 20th century. in the second half, when it was not only intended to drain it, but also to fill it with construction waste. Wetlands are extremely sensitive to unfriendly human "non-economic" activities. Therefore, in order for the Great Island wetland of Lake Zarasas, which has reached our days, to survive, it is necessary to preserve a stable hydrological regime and ... allow it to live independently.

The material collected and still being collected by the experts of the project "LLI-476 Save the Future" on the biodiversity of the Big Island of Lake Zaras and the recommendations provided for its protection are valuable information for decision makers and implementers of the current project for creation and reconstruction of public spaces on the island. We hope that the area will not only be adapted to the needs of society, but also that the biodiversity of the island will be preserved to the maximum and its condition will be improved.

Project "LLI-476 Save the Past for the Future"

2014-2020 Interreg VA Latvian-Lithuanian cross-border co-operation program

The total value of the project is EUR 1,030,848.12,

of which - co-financing of the European Regional Development Fund - 876 220.89 EUR.  

The aim of the project is to increase the capacity of organizations involved in the restoration and maintenance of historic parks in the regions of North-Eastern Lithuania and Latgale through modern and comprehensive land management provisions combining historical, natural and biodiversity values and aspects of the rural landscape.

This article has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union.

The State Agency for the Restoration and Protection of Wetlands is responsible for the content .

The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Union.


Program website . 

EU website .  

Photos by Žydrūnas Sinkevičius and Jūratė Sendžikaitė

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