LANDSCAPE / Changing Landscape

Human has left a distinctive imprint in the development of the Curonian Spit landscape. The forests of the Spit deeply suffered from the wars Sweden invasion 1629-1635 and Russian Army 1756-1763 in particular. Environmental destruction was also influenced by local residents who used to cut the trees for their own needs and burn heathland for beekeeping purposes. Their livestock used to destroy thin forest floor and grass surface. Only 10% of the Spit area was covered by forest in 1700.

 

The flora devastation effects were already evident in the 16th century the sand had become a silent enemy of the locals. The memoirs of contemporaries reveal the desperate efforts of the locals to survive and save their property. However, all the applied measures were short-term and could not resist the dune sand pressure. The only way to escape was to leave the settlement and resettle in a new place. In such a way 7 fishing villages disappeared from the map of the Spit. This period is one of the most dramatic in the Curonian Spit history. Changes in terrain and total transformation of forest landscape into desert was influenced by drifting sand.  Traveling sand has changed the landscape on its own: vanishing major part of parabolic dunes, growingthe great dune ridge, changing lagoon coastline - coastline erosion. Human life was also affected by drifting sand: sandbound postal route, Klaipėda Strait and Port covered with sand, lack of timber due to deforestation, farming and pasture areas decreased.

 At the juncture of the 18th -19th  centuries people became aware that it should be impossible to live in the Curonian Spit without targeted actions undertaken. Consistent works focused on sand movement stopping were started from 1805. Firstly, there was launched the formation of protective dune ridge along the seashore intended for sand accumulation and prevention from further entering the Spit. The second important step was to stabilize the major dune ridge by reinforcing the drifting dune slopes with low brushwood fences and afforestation.

 At the end of the 19th century 50% of the Curonian Spit area was covered with forests again owing to human contribution. This has created the picturesque landforms of the Curonian Spit to the present day: protective dune ridge, blown sand plane, tussock meadow, great dune ridge, littoral plane.

Environment changes and economic development of the state also had impact on the settlements of the Curonian Spit. By the 19th century there were typical fishing villages at the lagoon coast. In process of time an urban design and building architecture is beginning to change - fishing villages have been gradually transforming into resorts.

 In the 19th - early 20th centuries, the Curonian Spit settlements along with ambient environment formed significant complexes of nature, culture and recreation which witness historical adaptability of the settlements to the environment. The urban architecture was considerably affected by Soviet period when huge and faceless architectural structures had been constructed, and the negative impact of which is still notable.

 

 The cultural landscape of the Curonian Spit is still in the process of development it maintains its proactive social role in modern society, referred to traditional lifestyle, and evolution processes therein are still in progress. The current landscape of the Curonian Spit clearly reveals the essential development signs inextricably linked to natural processes and human activity. Although there have been changes both in generations and ethnic community of the Curonian Spit, however the very close relationship between human and nature is still remaining. Considering the aforementioned, the Curonian Spit was included in UNESCO World Heritage List as of 2000 as a cultural landscape.


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FAQ
4. Is it possible to put up tents in the territory of Kursiu nerija national park?

To put up tents in the territory of Kursiu nerija national park is strictly forbidden

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