The vegetation in Kamajai area
Natural plant communities in the intensely cultivated landscape remained only as small islands. The goal of the present work is to find the survived natural plant communities and explore their value.
The area has been studied in summer of 2005 by route method. Land use maps of the Rokiškis District (M 1: 10 000), forest schemes of the Kamajai Forest Enterprise (forest management in 1984) (M 1: 20000), as well as the map of Kamajai Valsčius (M 1: 50 000) compiled by Lidija Kavaliauskienė working at the Cartography Centre, Faculty of Nature Sciences of the Vilnius University have been used.
The communities detected are described applying the vegetation research and classification principles of French-Swiss school. The value of communities is determined visually and by making phytocenological descriptions and analysing them later. During the analysis, the value of communities is determined assessing their saturation with characteristic species, types of vegetation composition, natural character of vertical and horizontal structure and changes in the structure related to human activities.
There are few natural communities of plants in the landscape of the former Kamajai Valsčius area. The largest river in the area studied is Šetekšna that, including its tributaries, is almost everywhere straightened and running in deep ditches. The valley of Šetekšna is bogged in some places, and willow bushes (mainly grey willow) grow along the wetlands and rivulet ditches with rare crack willows, silver birches or grey alder groups. Along the drained Šetekšna, as in all the area of the former rural district, agricultural landscapes prevail, with its ridges arable and lower land occupied by cultured meadows and pastures. The cultured pastures on the higher places extend as far as the Šetekšna River. The remains of natural meadow communities along the Šetekšna River is observed only in the northern part of the area studied, where the river valley had not been reclaimed (the Šetekšna River is the boundary of the district). In this length, the valley is very bogged and overgrown with bushes. Since very few natural plant communities remained in the agrarised landscape, therefore each single natural plant community at a local level is important as an example of concentrated biodiversity. If the bushes were removed and valley meadows were mowed in this place, former natural plant communities attributed to the valuable meadow habitats of European significance could be restored.
There are seven lakes in the area of Kamajai, but larger areas with the communities of the European significance are observed at Lake Petriošiškis and the bog adjacent to the western and south-western side of the lake. It is declared the telmological reserve. There are natural meadow communities attributed to the habitats of European significance: transition mires and quaking bogs (7140), bog woodland (91D0) and Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods (9080).
The eastern part of the area is notable for larger or smaller forests remained. They are mainly young after recent felling, while their wetter plots are drained, and their value as natural communities is low. There are several plots of mature coniferous forests attributed to the habitats of the European significance, i.e., western taiga (9010) and Fennoscandian herb-rich forests with Picea abies (9050).