Lithuania has its very own system of protected areas, and long-standing traditions of the protection of natural and cultural heritage. Protected areas are established not only for the protection of natural and cultural values, but also for their adaptation to allow public use and access, be it for educational, recreational or other purposes.

Lithuania has very old traditions to conserve sacred forests, trees, stones, springs, etc. But the system of Lithuania’s protected areas has been developed for over three decades, and now 67 years have passed since the first protected area was established. Today, protected areas in Lithuania cover 15 % of the total area (excluding marine protected areas). Lithuania’s complete system of protected areas consists of 5 strict reserves (two of which are cultural), around 400 reserves of different types (landscape, geomorphological, hydrographical, telmological, botanical, zoological, etc.), 5 national parks (one being historic), 30 regional parks (one also historic), 1 biosphere reserve, 30 biosphere polygons, 3 recuperative plots and many natural and cultural heritage objects.

Natura 2000 network covers about 13 % of the total country territory. Lithuania has four properties of outstanding universal value that have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. For example Curonian Spit, which is an outstanding example of a landscape of sand dunes that is under constant threat from natural forces like wind and tide. In 2011, Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve became first Lithuanian area included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. Seven larger scale protected areas are members within the Ramsar Convention on wetlands conservation.

The largest part of the nature conservation system includes national and regional parks. Those have been established in areas that are from a natural, cultural and recreational aspect vulnerable and especially valuable.

The State Service for Protected Areas – Valstybinė saugomų teritorijų tarnyba – under the Ministry of Environment is the main body implementing state policy on protected areas, including Natura 2000 areas, and directly responsible for the conservation of natural values, landscape and biological diversity, set-up and maintenance of visitor centers’ and fulfilling educational activities. At present, all strict reserves, national and regional parks and biosphere reserve have been assigned with administrations, which activities are coordinated by the State Service for Protected Areas.

Protected Areas in Lithuania

Dzūkija National Park

Dzūkija National Park was established in 1991 in order to preserve the pine forests, the landscape, and the villages of the region. The area encompasses approximately 550 square kilometers on the banks of the Nemunas River. The National Park is also distinctive for its rich cultural heritage, namely, its ...

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Žemaitija National Park

Žemaitija National Park was established to preserve the areas of the Žemaitija region most valuable from the natural and cultural point of view. The park lies at the watershed of three rivers: the Minija, the Bartuva and the Venta. The most valuable site is the Plateliai group of lakes with the region&rsquo ...

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Kuršių nerija National Park

Kuršių nerija, the Curonian Spit, is a narrow strip of sand stretching 97 kilometres along the Baltic Sea in western Lithuania. According to the legend, the spit was formed a long time ago by Neringa, a girl giant who poured the sandy peninsula into the Baltic Sea to protect the peaceful bay from the ...

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