Landscape Reserves
Landscape reserves make up the largest and most important category of reserves committed to the protection of both unique and typical natural and cultural landscape complexes.  In the beginning, one of the reasons for the establishment of these reserves was to protect territories of aesthetic, tourist or recreational value. This is why the first landscape reserves founded in 1960 and 1974 are now classified as state parks. In 1983 landscape reserves occupied an area of over 100,000 ha. In seeking to cover the whole range of the main landscape types and unique landscape complexes, the number of state reserves has grown to 54, however, as the largest reserves have become part of state parks the actual area of state reserves has decreased to 59,000 ha. This relatively large area of hundreds and even thousands of hectares all comes under the protected areas title. The largest of these protected areas is the Ūla landscape reserve, 6,779 ha in size.

Geological Reserves
Geological reserves are created to protect underground land structures, typical examples of the exposed layers of land, caves and fossil complexes. The first seven geological reserves established in 1960 were established for the protection of karst sinkhole complexes and river belts with layers of rock that were exposed in the Devonian period and the Mesozoic era. A separate ruling passed by the Council of Ministers in 1971 concerning the establishment of geological reserves resulted in an additional eight reserves protecting boulder fields. Another four reserves were established in 1988. Many geological reserves were integrated into the Biržai and Salantai regional parks in 1992, while the remaining 11 now occupy 600 ha. There are still three geological reserves in the Biržai regional park.

Geomorphological Reserves
Geomorphological reserves are established to protect both typical and unique relief form complexes, and span the whole range of relief forms seen in Lithuania – moraine hills and ridges, fluvioglacial valleys, river valleys, sunken valleys with countless lakes, erosion ravines, and continental dune belts. Geomorphological reserves appeared relatively recently (1988) compared to other reserve types, and are not an integrated part of other state parks, but independently distributed throughout the country. They are outnumbered only by landscape reserves. 40 state geomorphological reserves founded in 1988, 1992 and 1997 cover an area of almost 30,000 ha.

Hydrographical Reserves
Hydrographical reserves are designed to protect the natural structure of our hydrographical network, the rivers and lakes. The state network of hydrographical reserves was formed in 1988 and 1992, along with the geomorphological reserves. Many of these types of reserves protect features characteristic of natural river zones, such as the meandering loops in floodplain valleys, and rivers running through deep, steep-sloped water gaps. State reserves often protect middle and smaller sized river zones, while the country‘s larger rivers are protected by state parks. This reserve group also includes lake complexes of various configurations and origins, and the Varniai regional park has hydrographical reserves to protect the sources of the Venta and Minija rivers. 36 state reserves occupy an area of 12,400 ha.

Pedological Reserves
Pedological reserves are created to protect examples of natural soil layers. The territories of these reserves have been selected exclusively from forests to ensure that the soil layer structure would have never been disturbed by any form of agricultural activity. All 12 pedological reserves established in 1988 are quite small and take up an area of 1,400 ha. These reserves usually cover an area of 2-4 forest sections. Due to their special conditions for existence, these types of reserves have not been integrated into state parks.

Botanical Reserves
The first botanical reserves established in 1960 were created to protect plant species, their communities and biotypes. The state botanical reserve list has grown rather steadily, with new additions in 1974, 1988, 1992 and 1997. Botanical reserves offer protection to both rare species as well as the more typical natural forest and grassland communities. This reserve group also includes the Nagliai and Šventininkai botanical reserves that officially no longer exist, as their protection regime failed to guarantee the survival of their objects of botanical value. The other 32 state botanical reserves, whose natural assets have also been integrated into state parks as has happened with other reserves, make up only 5,100 ha, a relatively small area. The Smeltė botanical reserve is the smallest state reserve at a mere 2.3 ha.

Zoological Reserves
The zoological reserves group, created for the protection of animal species, their communities and biotypes, can be further categorised into teriological (mammals), ornithological (birds), herpetological (reptiles and amphibians), ichthyological (fish) and entomological (insects) reserve types.

Ornithological reserves are among the earliest established, however all the reserves founded in 1960 and 1974 are now found within larger state park boundaries. Among the ‘last of the Mohicians’ were the Kretuonas (now part of the Aukštaitija National Park) and the Žaltytis ornithological reserves (now part of the Žuvintas Biosphere Reserve). We can expect an increase in the number of ornithological reserves with the implementation of the EU Birds Directive. For example, in 2005 alone, four state ornithological reserves were established. There are currently 11 state ornithological reserves occupying an area of 3,000 ha.

A state teriological reserve was created in 1988 in the Kaunas Fort for the protection of bats‘ wintering areas. The Kaunas City municipality established municipality reserves in other defensive forts and bunkers found in the city for the same reason.

There are a few herpetological reserves in the district of Lazdijai that protect pond turtles. Three small zoological reserves were founded in 1976, one of them becoming part of the Meteliai regional park. The Baltoji Ančia state reserve has been created to protect the tree-frog population, and there is hope that similar reserves will be established in the future, dedicated to the protection of other specific reptile species.

The Jūra, Merkys, Minija and Žeimena rivers and their tributaries, and the Dubysa, Ratnyčia, Šventoji as well as other river zones were announced as ichthyological reserves in 1974 in an effort to protect coldwater and migrating fish from other countries (trout, salmon and Vimba vimba). The waterways of these 10 reserves extend for 1,000 kilometres.

The two first entomological reserves (Dukstyna and Baltoji Ančia) were established in 1976, with new reserves appearing in 1988 and 1992. Almost all of these are meant to protect various moth species, while the Nerėpa reserve near Kulautva protects rare caddisfly species. Entomological reserves are quite small in size, the six state reserves occupying only 500 ha.

Botanical- Zoological Reserves
The first botanical-zoological reserves, established in 1960, were the successors of the hunting reserve tradition. Botanical-zoological reserves are dedicated to the protection of plant and animal species and their communities. They are among the largest reserves in Lithuania, often more than 1,000 ha in size. The Praviršulio tyrelio, Tyruliai ir Žalioji giria reserves are each over 3,000 ha in size. In total, all 15 state botanical-zoological reserves occupy 18,400 ha.

Telmological Reserves
Telmological (mire) reserves came about with the passing of the Law on Protected Areas, though generally speaking, swamp protection had always received special attention. These reserves were created to protect typical and unique swamp complexes.
During Soviet times the peat industry was very widespread, having a negative effect on all the largest swamps. Often, the only way of preventing the extraction of peat was to declare a particular area a reserve. The predecessors of this group of swamp reserves were botanical cranberry plots, established in 1974. The telmological reserve group was expanded to include certain landscape and botanical-zoological reserves that were to protect the larger swamps. Much like the swamps they protect, the telmological reserves vary greatly in size, ranging from smaller swamps no larger than 10 ha to larger swamps extending over 1,000 ha (Alioniai, Mūšos tyrelis, Kernavas, Notigalė, Reiskių tyra and Svencelė). Our 39 state telmological reserves occupy 23,800 ha.

Talasological Reserves
This is the newest type of nature reserve that first appeared in the amended Law on Protected Areas (2001), and is designed to protect valuable coastal ecosystems. The state Baltic Sea talasological reserve was established in 2005 with the endorsement of its provisions and boundary plan. It is the only, but therefore the most enormous state reserve, covering over 14,000 ha in sea water area. It is adjoined by the Jūra reserve (also known as the Karklė talasological reserve) which is 3,000 ha and part of the Pajūrys regional park,

Cultural Reserves
The different categories of cultural reserves, as outlined in the Law on Protected Areas, are archeological, historical, ethnocultural and urban/architectural. Compared to nature and landscape reserves, the cultural reserve network is much more widespread within state parks. Despite this, the number of state cultural reserves can be counted on one hand due to the ingrained traditions in the protection of cultural heritage objects, where town urban structure and ethnocultural villages, which would be better protected if they had reserve status, continue to be classified as monuments.

Last updated: 13-02-2024