Rural landscape status, functions and human factors in the transboundary Nemunas delta region

Authors: Verkulevičiūtė-Kriukienė D., Bučienė A., Beteika L. 

Type of publication: Article peer review

The geography of border regions is not only determined by geopolitical issues, but also by physical factors, cultural traditions, economic activities and demographic change. Twenty‐five years ago, the rural landscapes in the Šilutė (Lithuania) and Slavsk (Russia) administrative districts, which are located in the Nemunas river delta area, were dominated by agriculture, based on polder systems. Subsequently, agriculture has shrunk and some agricultural land has been abandoned. As a result of migration, the total and rural populations in Slavsk district have remained the same as 25 years ago. In Šilutė district, the total and rural populations have been decreasing each year since 1990–1991. Traditional agriculture in Šilutė district is supplemented by organic farms and, in parallel with commercial fisheries, recreational fishing has increased. Rural tourism, water and nature tourism and other recreational activities have also increased, particularly in Rusnė Island and Nemunas Delta Regional Park territory (Lithuania's part of the delta). Protected areas have increased four‐fold since 1991–1992, while there has been a negligible increase in built‐up areas in the whole delta region. Though recreation and tourism are less developed in Slavsk district, and small and medium enterprises are fewer than in Šilutė district, the rural landscape is evidently changing in the whole region. It is transforming from a traditional agricultural–fishery region to a multifunctional region that is focused on increasing conservation and recreational activities.

Verkulevičiūtė‐Kriukienė, D, Bučienė, A, Beteika, L. 2018. Rural landscape status, functions and human factors in the transboundary Nemunas delta region. Area. 2018; 50: 353– 363.
DOI: 10.1111/area.12383