LANDSCAPE / Cultural Landscape

Have you ever questioned why the Curonian Spit had been named a cultural landscape?

Historical records, memoirs of contemporaries and other documents reveal the history of the Curonian Spit through the human-nature relationship. It is known that in the 15th century the residents of Šarkuva started intensive shore strengthening works at the narrowest point of the Curonian Spit. At a later time the collision of humans and nature becomes more intensive: large-scale deforestation, intensive pasturage, resin and charcoal extraction, tapping took place from the 16th century. Heathland burnings for beekeeping purposes also contributed to the devastation of flora. The above is perfectly illustrated by the report as of 1794 by Karl Nanke, the inspector of economics of Prussia, stating that Prussian peasant had no clue about saving the forest. The forests of the Spit suffered in times of wars, especially during the Seven Years' War (1756-1763).

Forest coverage in the Spit decreased from 75% down to 10 % (1605 -1834).  The signs of ecological disaster are highly distinctive - Klaipėda port, postal route covered in sand, sandbound villages. Economical losses: timber resources destroyed, sand threatening to fish stocks of the Curonian Lagoon.   

At the turn of the 19th century it becomes evident that this place might not survive without major dune reinforcement works. Protective dune ridge stabilization works were launched in 1805, high dune reinforcement and vegetation works - in 1810.

In the course of 200 years, by means of enormous human efforts a cultural landscape consisting of the following elements was formed:

  • general spatial structure, characteristic panoramas and silhouette of the Curonian lagoon;
  • cultural derivatives: sandbound villages and other archaeological heritage; historical postal route, spatial-planned structure and architecture of traditional fishing villages turned into resorts: ancient fishermen's houses, professionally designed buildings of the 19th century: lighthouses, quays, churches, schools, villas, hotels, summer houses; and elements of maritime cultural heritage;
  • natural and human-made elements: distinctive Great Dune Ridge and individual dunes, relics of ancient parabolic dunes; a human made protective coastal dune ridge; coastal and littoral plains, littoral peninsulas (capes); ancient forests, mountain pine forests and other unique sand flora and fauna including a bird migration path;
  • cultural traditions, local spirituality, which reflect the lifestyle of former fishermen community.




 


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