Forests in the area of Žarėnai

Andrius Kuliešis

Forests are an integral part of the landscape, as well as a part of the economic and cultural life of a country or a region. The most important natural values are formed and most easily preserved in them. The Žarėnai land area is defined according to the Žarėnai rural district (valsčius) boundaries fixed by L. Kavaliauskienė according to the 1923 census. The forests of the Žarėnai region fall into the two largest forest massifs of Samogitia (Žemaitija): Pagermantė–Vilkai–Parešketis in the north, and Tverai–Judrėnai in the south. The productivity of Žarėnai region forests and other values accumulated in it, as well as their changes over the last seven decades are evaluated in the paper. The forest cover in the region has increased from 29.8 to 50.6 percent over the past 60 years. Private (71%) mostly commercial (79%) forests prevail. Protective forests accounted for 16%, with ecosystem protection making for 6% of all forest areas. The most common habitats of medium richness (63%) are notable for normal (43%) and temporary excess moisture (31%). Spruce (34%), birch (27%) and pine (22%) stands prevail in the forests. The highest productivity is achieved at the spruce stands of the region. Higher forest productivity in the southern part of the area results by higher volumes of forest stands (from 6 to 25 percent) and higher increment of soft deciduous stands. The forests of the region are characterised not only by accumulated volumes of wood and higher than average increments but also by a very expressive hydrographical network enriching the landscape, many rivers and streams, valuable protected areas and natural monuments, as well as archaeological objects and accumulated historical and cultural values.