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logo DNP Dzukija National Park
Miškininku 61, Marcinkonys LT-4670, Varena, Lithuania 

 

 

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GENERAL INFORMATION 

DNP  Photo1 The Dzukija National Park was established on 23 April, 1991 according to the Supreme Council decree No. I-244 of the Republic of Lithuania to protect, manage and utilise the richest, naturally and culturally, territories of Dainava land. The principal object is to protect parficularly valuable natural and cultural complexes of Dainava land, to cherish cultural traditions of Dzukija, to spread traditional farming methods and to form conditions for cognitive tourism. It is the largest territory protected in Lithuania of 55,900 hectares. Forests cover 43700 hectares. The major part of the park lies in Varena district (ca 95%) while smaller parts cover Alytus district (ca 4%) and Lazdijai district (ca 1 %). The park is situated in Lithuania's south, at 100 km south-west from Vilnius and 100 km south from Kaunas.
The park is maintained by 200 workers. Its territory is divided into 10 forestry districts. Merkine small town and 79 villages are inhabited by a population of 4,000. Over 50% of park inhabitants are of retirement age and only 10% are younger than 15. The largest settlements of the Dzukija National Park are Merkine (1590 inhabitants), Marcinkonys (866), Panara (263) Musteika (104) and Margionys (91 ). The park belongs to the Federation of European National Parks and the Association of Baltic National Parks.
Relief. The Dzukija National Park lies in the south of the Dainava sandy plain. North-westem edge of the park climbs on the Dzukai hill. The dividing line belween these areas goes by Veisiejai-Merkine morainal hilly track. Around two thirds of the park territory lie in a sandy plain channeled bysteep slopes with river valleys of distinct terraces. The most unique park landscapes are the mainland dune massifs of Marcinkonys, Lynežeris, Grubaulia and Šunupis. These were formed after the second stage of the glacial period (30,000 years ago). The surface of the plain is varied by ravines with small lakes. At Merkine, the morainal highness is dominated by landscapes of average hilly ravines, different soil and farming land covers and chains of lakes. Where the waters of the Nemunas river had broken a morainal  DNP Photo2
crest, now stony shoals are set (Noblewoman by Ulčičiai, Falcon by Dubaklonis, Scissors by Merkine, Sewer by Maksimonys). Before gnawing though the morainal crest, the river wandered into different directions for a while leaving a valley of 4-6 km (near Panara and Netiesa villages, in particular) and the curves of old river-beds of 2-3 km radius (Pakrykšte marsh). The park's territory is at 100 m above sea-level on the average. The highest point is Dalgiakalnis hill (168.2 m above sea-level) that is found in the massif of lowland dunes at 4 km distance north-east from Marcinkonys. The lowest place is a channel ofthe Nemunas riverat Krikštonys (66 m above sea- level).
DNP Photo3 Climate. The park's climate is more continental than in other parts of Lithuania. The sun radiation received is one of  the highest in Lithuania. Sharp fluctuations of day and annual   temperature as well as the earliest and the latest frosts are noticeable. The average temperature in January falls to-5.4 C,  maximum down to - 40.0 °C. In July, the average temperature  is +17.7°C and may rise at most to +37.0 °C (the highest in  Lithuania). 
Soils. Within the territory of the park, parficularly in the  south-east plain, inferfile podzolic sandy soils dominate. To the north-eas of Merkine and in the environs of Žeimiai, turfen podzolic sandy and sandy loam soils are found; in higher zones, these soils are interfered with turfen carbonate sandy soils ripped off on gravel. Typical turfen carbonate soils, formed on freshwater limestone lens or lime layers, are spread in the valleys of the Skroblus and other rivers and lake shores. Alluvial soils may also be discovered in river valleys. Marshy soils of lower type expand in the upper and the middle Skroblus, the upper Gruda and the valleys of Šilinge, Pakrykšte and Kempe. Higher marshy soils are mostly found in the southem park territory, the environs of Musteika village. 
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VALUES 

DNP Photo4 The Dzukija National Park is divided into 4 functional zones: preservative, protective, recreational and economic. The preservative zone (reservations and preserves) occupies 262 580 thousand hedares (47.5% of territory). The stridest protection regime is applied to 3 reservations that cover 2 080 hectares in total. The Musteika reservation stretches through the upper reaches of Musteika brook and the surrounding forests. The Povilnis reservation preservesthe outset sources of Povilnis rivulet, suffosic circuses and canyon-like upper reaches of the rivulet valley. The Skroblus reservation includes the middle reaches of Skroblus rivulet and its lower reaches 
between Kapiniškiai and Dubininkas villages.  The landscape preservations occupy 13 060 hectares. The richest sections of the Nemunas, the Merkys and the Ula rivers were announced to be the preserves of the park. The unique source and higher reaches of Skroblus rivulet with abundant springs, its wide valley with a structurally charaderistic land-tenure of Kapiniškiai village and the ethnographi- callyvaluable Margionys village are secured bythe Kapiniškiai preserve. In the norfhwestern parf of the park, the Lizdai preserve protects a distinct morainal hill-chain with deep thermocarstic pits, Lizdai, Galvinis and Bedugnis lakes, lake shore marshes and the Ežerynas camp of the Stone Age. Many archeological riches arefound in the Glynas landscape preserve which includes Lake Glynas, Glynupis brook and a complex of five old camping places. Other natural preserves occupy 10 600 hectares dominated by geomorphologic preserves protecting characteristic to Dzukija and other unique elements of  landscape. For the preservation of Dzukija continental dunes, even 4 preserves - Alkunes kampas, Dreves, Marcinkonys and Šunupis - were established. Ucieka, Gudeliai and Pakrukšte geomorphologic preserves were formed to maintain the characteristic relief elements of the Nemunas valley. 
The relief of the southern slopes of Dzukija morainal highlands is well represented by the Merkine geomorphologic preserve located norfhwards of Merkine small town. The most cherished elements of the river-chain of Dzukija are also preserved in hydrographic preserves, the Gnuda and the Netiesos. Scarce marshes of the Dzukija National Park are protected in thermologic preserves - Delynas, Didžiabale, Bakanauskai and Imškos. The single botanical preserve of Subartonys forest protects rarely met spruce groves mixed with oak- trees and rich grasses that are characteristic to Dzukai high- lands. The park keeps 60 natural monuments, including 18 landscape objects - precipices of the Ula, the Merkys and the Nemunas, fascinating ravines, springs, rock exposures, mountain-ridges, chasms and lakes. The most outstanding natural monuments are considered to be the spring "Ula eye", old bee-keeping relics - the hollow pines, the lime tree Lietuvis (Lithuanian) in Margionys village and Zenynai oak. DNP Photo4

Rivers. The park's territory belongs to the Nemunas river basin. The park includes the Middle Nemunas, the sections of the Merkys, the Ula and the Gruda rivers and the unique Skroblus rivulet - 30 large and small rivers in total which are nourished by ground water. Therefore, the flow of rivers and Merkys river - 700 litres per second. There is no other so shorf and deep brook in Lithuania. Geomorphologic processes take place in the Skroblus river basin very intensively. Some pits particularly capture one' s attention - they are deep, steep and shady.

Lakes. The Dzukija National Park has 48 lakes the total space of which is 232 hectares. The largest lakes are Lizdai (27 ha), Lynas (18.5 ha), Gelovine (15.9 ha), Glynas (15.2 ha), Galvinis (12.4 ha), Gilse (10.6 ha) and Kastinis (10.1 ha). In the norfh-west part of the park, where the ravine vale crossesthe sandy terraced plain of the Nemunas river, Krokinis, Ežerinis, Lizdai, Galvinis, Kazamkelis, Bedugnis, Giluišis Balaežeris, Netiesis, Netieselis, Dumblinis, Pakampis, Ešerinis Pilselis and Lauja lakes are centered. Gelovine, Gilše, Kampinis, Pakelinis and Linmarkas lakes lie in the Masališkis pit, near Subartonys. These  lakes are mostly narrow, deep, with steep shores and meandering. In the territory of the old valley (lower terrace) lakes Mergeles akeles and Glynas are found.
 

Most of the territory is covered by forests where pineries dominate (92%). The commonest pine forests are of lichen (51 %) and cowberry (33%) sorf. Their warmth-loving plants predetermine the floral uniqueness of the Dainava plain. Sprucegroves are mostly characteristic to highlands, to the norfh of Merkine. Black alder groves concentrate near marshes and in rivervalleys. Birch groves usually gather in former places of conifers and mixed forests. Elmgroves near the valleys of springy rivers, the Nemunas in parficular, are notable fortheir originality. In the Dzukai hill and in dry river slopes, small thermophylic shrubbery may be found where hawthorns, spindle-trees, buckthoms and other shrubs grow. Ripe tree groups form only 2%. The average age of tree group is 55 years. DNP Photo5
Marshes. The largest marsh areas are in the park's south , around Musteika village. The marsh flora is also spread in the shores of singular lakes. Small marshes are found in lowered hilly areas of the park at Subarfonys. Very peculiarfloral populations of intermediate marshes are concentrated in the valley of Kempe rivulet and the marshy Skroblus valley in Kapiniškes - so called Skerdzimai meadow. In bigger marshes, the flora of various marsh lypes - lower, intermediate or higher - may be found. In smaller ones, the floral population is less diverse, since the flora of low marshes dominates. Natural or seminatural meadows account for a small number. They are concentrated in the valley and hill slopes. Many varieties came to Lithuania by river valleys and sandy plains from south-eastem and central Europe. For this reason, many limit-spreading variables, which are absent or very rare in other parts of Lithuania, now may be found in the Dzukija National Park. Most of these species are included into the list of protected plants.  Besides, in the park, certain species where found that are very infrequent in Lithuania and attributed only to 10 finding places - Equisetum telmateia, Dentaria bulbifera, red helleborine (Cephalantera rubra), western marsh orchid (Dactylorhiza majalis), Botrychium matricariifolium and B. virginianum and other.
DNP Photo6 The forests of the park give the richest mushroom crop known forotters (Lutra lutra), beavers (Castorfiber) and minks in Lithuania. Among edible mushrooms - boletus and chan- (Lutreola vison). Such rare animals as mountain hare (Lepus terelle are widespread. In the gravelled hills of Merkine timidus) and common dormouse (Glis glis) are also found in and Liškiava, saffron milk-caps are not rare, while in the the National Park. Sands of Marcinkonys environs, green muschrooms pour out in autumn. There are around 300 mushroom species stated in the park territory, including 10 protected sorts, though this is not the limit as the exploration of the 
park's mushrooms is rather poor Even 212 lichen species were discovered in the park within 400 sorfs known in Lithuania. Lichen appears on various trees, rotten stumps, soil and granite pebbles. In clean brooklets, even water lichen was found. The lichen flora of pine forests is very rich and diverse. 

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VISITORS 

The Dzukija National Park provides acquaintance with natural riches of Dzukija, the households, traditions and customs of dzukai living in different areas. The most popular and comfortableform ofvisiting the park is autotourism. The present road network is convenient to access Marcinkonys and Merkine. The number of asphalt roads increases each year, though many visitable places can be reached only by gravel highways or forest roads. For organised park visitors, excursions by bus are proposed. Neverfheless, the very beauly of Dzukija land may be grasped bywalking on foot or driving on bicycles. For the comforf of park visitors, many relaxation grounds, arbours, bonfire places, foot-bridges and paths to springs are arranged. The park has four pedestrian passages. In Marcinkonys, starfing from the ethnocultural and educational centre of environmental preservation, the route begins by Girinis (3.6 km) and Zackagiris (4.8 km and 13 km circular routes) paths in picturesque environs of Marcinkonys. Not far away from Marcinkonys, by the northwestedge ofthe Čepkeliai reservation, a path 1.5 km acquaints  DNP Photo7
with the unique nature of Dzukija dunes and Čepkeliai bog. Out of the watch-tower, wide spaces of the bog lie open to the eye. Forthose who want to see the marsh from near, a foot-bridge is laid across. This path may be visited only with an accompanying staff of the National Park or the Čepkeliai reservation. From 1 April to 1 June only small groups of visitors are accepted. One more road (2 km) starfs from Merkine mould and twists along the meadows and forests of the confluence of the Merkys and the Nemunas rivers.
DNP Photo8 We recommend to starf the acquaintance with the park from the information centres of Marcinkonys and Merkine. Here, you will find excursion guides and available information on the park's visiting, camping places and accommodation in villages orto watch videotapes about the park. Information centres constantly hold art exhibitions and sell souvenirs and booklets. For more exhaustive information about the nature and culture of Dzukija, we would recommend to visit the educational centre of environmental preservation and ethnography in Marcinkonys where qualified specialists of the National Park provide services.
The centre has convenient facilities to organize seminars, conferences, schools of traditional trades (for groups of not more than 25 parficipants); all necessary equipment is available. Five museums opened in the territory of the park will help you to know the rich history and culture of Dainava land: - Alytus museum of local ethnography, Merkine branch (Merkine, central square); - Historical museum of Lithuania's fights and sufferings for freedom (Seinai str 8, Merkine); - House-museum of Vincas Kreve-Mickevičius in Subartonys; - Ethnographic museum of the Dzukija National Park (Miškininku str 6, Marcinkonys); - A branch of Kaunas zoological museum of Tadas Ivanauskas in Čepkeliai state reservation (Šilageliu str 11, Marcinkonys).
DNP Photo9 The travelers of the park may accommodate in Druskininkai and Varena hotels and recreational apartments of Marcinkonys educational centre of environmental preservation and ethnography (Administrator's phone No: (370 60) 44469). For those who prefer to spend nights in tents, 15 camping places are arranged. In Merkine, approximately 30 people can pass the night in private farmsteads. The addresses are provided by the staff of Merkine information centre. You can have a meal in several cafes in Liškiava, Marcinkonys and Merkine. Food stores are in Marcinkonys, Merkine, Liškiava, Kibysiai, Subartonys, Puvočiai, Margionys, Musteika and Panara.

Information:

- Marcinkonys information centre, Miškininku str. 61, Marcinkonys, 4670 Varena region, fax (370 60) 44471, phone 44466;
- Educational centre of environmental preservation and ethnoculture, Miškininku str 61, Marcinkonys, 4670 Varena region. Phone (370 60) 44467 (environmental education), 44465 (ethnography), fax 44471.
- Merkine information centre, Vilniaus str. 2, Merkine, 4651 Varena region, phone (370 60) 57245.

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