The vegetation of Panemunėlis area

Daiva Patalauskaitė

Flat non-sloping plains prevail in the area of Panemunėlis with two larger rivers–Nemunėlis and Šetekšna–as well as their tributaries, three natural lakes and numerous bogs varying in size. Forests cover about a quarter of the area.

Due to intensive economic activities, agrarian landscape dominates now in the environs of Panemunėlis. The larger and smaller bogs are mainly drained and turned into pastures, meadows or arable land. These measures lessened the biological variety, thus very few nooks of untouched nature remained. The present work was aimed at the study of the vegetation in the area of Panemunėlis, assessment of its state, localisation of natural plant communities and determination of their value.

The area was under study during the summer of 2002 by a route method. The communities detected were described applying the principles of French-Swiss school of vegetation studies and classification. The value of communities was determined according to the criteria applied to distinguish the habitats of European significance.

Now the preserved valuable natural communities of plants lie mainly in the river valleys which avoided draining and forests. The following habitats of the European significance have been detected in the area of Panemunėlis:

The hayfield (mesophyte) meadows (6510). The areas of natural meadows in the natural flood plains for this habitat are in the valley of the Šetekšna River at the Šetekšnos Village.

The semi-natural dry grasslands (6210). Small fragments of such meadows have been observed east of Lake Alseta on the gravel hills at the disused gravel pits and on the slopes of the Nemunėlis River terraces, as well as on clayey soils at the nemoral forest outskirts close to Panemuniai Village.

The eutrophic tall herbs (6430) have been detected on the banks of the Šetekšna River in drier valley lengths.

The alluvial forests (91E0). T Such forests are observed in the Panemuniai Village in the valley of a small tributary of Nemunėlis River in a narrow part of the valley confined by narrow and steep slopes.

The Fennoscandian deciduous swamp woods (9080) have been detected in the forest of Alseta: quarters 48, 49 and 52 closer to the lake.

The herb-rich forests with Picea abies (9050) have been detected in the forest of Alseta.

The broad-leaved deciduous forests (9020) have been observed in the Panemuniai Village on the above-terrace part of the valley of a small tributary of the Nemunėlis River as narrow belt of normal humid nemoral forests.