are small islands of undisturbed nature (only 0.4% of the territory of Lithuania), which people have deliberately chosen to preserve in a wild, natural, “unimproved” condition, as much as that is still possible. It was decided that absolutely no economic (commercial) activity would be carried out in these areas, and that the human presence there would be strictly limited. At present, only scientists and researchers walk the paths of the reservation, carrying out research and performing various observations, and inspectors monitor the area. For other visitors, nature trails have been made. Accompanied by Reservation staff, visitors may see for themselves and feel the rhythm of a natural area almost undisturbed by humans. Without permission from the Reservation headquarters, it is forbidden to visit the Reservation.
In 1975, along the southern edge of Lithuania, the Čepkeliai state nature reservation
was established. In an area of 11,212 hectares, the following natural features are preserved:
- the Čepkeliai wetlands complex, the largest in Lithuania, with its natural hydrologic regime,
- continental dunes,
- forests surrounding bogs, fens, and swamps,
- the stability of ecosystems and the flora, fauna, and fungi characteristic of these biotopes, including rare species.
The Čepkeliai territory is important not only to Lithuania. In 1993, when Lithuania joined the Ramsar Convention
, Čepkeliai was included on the List of Wetlands of International Importance.
The Čepkeliai reservation is also a NATURA 2000
territory, part of a European Union network of protected territories. This network is designed to preserve rare and endangered species and habitats which are of special importance to the biological diversity of all of Europe.
Activity in this protected area is administered by the Dzūkija National Park and Čepkeliai state nature reservation headquarters.
It is a budgetary organisation, established and overseen by the State Service for Protected Areas
under the Ministry of Environment. The staff of the headquarters protects the reservation’s territory, researches the natural environment, gathers information about its condition, and monitors changes in its condition. In addition, the staff welcomes and accompanies visitors, provides information, and educates the public about environmental protection.