Shifting dune management on the Curonian Spit, a coastal UNESCO World Heritage landscape
The Grand Curonian Dune Ridge stretches along the entire length of the Curonian Spit. Currently, there are four strips of shifting white and grey dune habitats still left on the Curonian Spit altogether comprising 31 km – 11 km of the shifting dunes located on the Lithuanian side of the border, and 20 km on the Russian side. These strips are designated as strict nature reserves where any access for visitors is limited just to three self-guided dune trails. Due to restricted access, thousands of visitors concentrate on these three trails speeding up the shifting dune erosion. Yet, the shifting dunes are the key tourist attraction being one of the main reasons why tourists visit the Curonian Spit. As one of the good practices, EUCC Baltic Office working together with the Kuršių Nerija National Park Administration has proposed changing the route of one of the self-guided dune trails and filling the eroded shifting dune gully with sand to prevent any further dune landscape degradation.
The amount of financial resources used and the human resources required to set up and to run the practice was within the range of 2000 € to 5000 € co-financed by the IMPACT project and the State Service of Protected Areas of Lithuania.
Evidence of success
The good practice is in the search and delivery of a habitat conservation problem of the priority issue of Lithuania’s environmental policy in relation to the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. The changed route of the self-guided dune trail will do less impact on the shifting dune habitat. As a result of the brainstorming exercise among the stakeholders supported by the expertise, the gully created by the human-induced dune erosion will be filled and the white dune habitat recreated.
The lesson learned during the implementation of the practice is that the key to success is in timely involvement of external experts, the administration of the national park and of local municipality.
Potential for learning or transfer
Although the practice is still not transferred to other protected areas participating in the IMPACT project, nevertheless we consider it as being potentially interesting for other regions to learn from because it is based on a typical case study: the challenge to find a ‘win-win’ solution for a situation with conflicting interests among different stakeholders within the same area which is important both for local welfare and for nature conservation. Round table discussions and negotiations among the stakeholders facilitated by a third party (EUCC Baltic Office) have succeeded in suggesting an alternative route for the self-guided dune trail, which could continue catering for interests of tourists visiting the Curonian Spit and keeping its role as the most attractive dune tourism destination in the Baltic Sea Region.
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