Tied to the Land

Protecting a unique cultural landscape that has both shaped and been shaped by humans

The Curonian Spit, an elongated sand dune peninsula separating the Baltic Sea from the Curonian Lagoon in Lithuania was formed more than 5,000 years ago. Situated in the Curonian Spit National Park in Lithuania and the Kurshskaya National Park of the Russian Federation, the sandy and wooded landscape is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, but was once nearly destroyed through a combination of human activity and natural forces.

Boy hauls weeds
On the hottest day of the summer Lions and Leos helped Administration to uproot invasive
plants on the Curonian Spit.

Formed on moraine islands from sand transported by currents, and later covered by forest, humans made their homes in the area in small Curonian Lagoon settlements. However, intensive logging in the 17th and 18th centuries led to depletion of the area’s natural protections against the wind and water, causing the migration of the dunes. The settlements were buried under sand, forcing people out of their homes and threatening the existence of the small fishing villages and the land itself.

Lions cleaning away brush.
The invasive Scotch broom plants were just starting to bloom and spread their
seeds when Lions helped clean them out. 

Since the 19th century, the spit has been preserved through the tireless efforts of conservation groups. Dune stabilization work included building a protective ridge along the seashore to prevent inland sand migration, using trees and brushwood hedges to reinforce the remaining dunes. And Lions have been actively participating in those restoration efforts.

On the hottest day of the summer of 2021, approximately 150 Lions and Leos helped the local workers of the National Park Administration to uproot invasive plants.


“The help we had from Lions clubs was significant,” says Aušra Feser, head of the National Park Administration. “It would have taken us about one month to do the work that we did in one day with their help.”

Lions having a picnic
After the hard work, Lions had a picnic in the
Bay of Amber.

Moreover, the timing was crucial. The invasive Scotch broom plants were just starting to bloom and spread their seeds. “The biological diversity is very sensitive in Curonian Spit,” says Feser. “That is what makes it so unique. We have to take care of it if we want to preserve it for future generations.” Lions pulled weeds in the field but didn’t let the day go by without sharing moments of togetherness and joy. After the hard work they had a picnic in the Bay of Amber—traditional fish soup, served with a deer horn ladle.

ladle of soup
Lions celebrated the day with a traditional fish
soup, served with a deer horn ladle.

Because the event was also part of their New Voices Symposium, Lions in District 131 decided to inspire others—and potentially gain new members—by inviting the public to participate. Rangers from the park service talked about peculiarities of their work, Lions exchanged their experiences with Leos, and in the afternoon they all were invited on a tour to an ancient forest. “Environmental. sustainability is one of the priorities of Lions clubs,” says District Governor Daiva Griksiene. “In Lithuania, many clubs have chosen to participate in the restoration and protection of the environment. We have seen how our efforts to conserve natural resources and to care for our environment can improve the well-being of the local community as well as increase the involvement and engagement of Lions.” Many Lions brought their children to the event to share with them the beauty of the spot and instill in them a longing to preserve it. “It’s important to raise conscious, social children and set a good example for them,” says DG Griksiene.

The Curonian Spit showcases the impact of human intervention, both good and bad. We have the capability to destroy nature, but also to bring it back. Ultimately, the goal is to preserve it, so that there will be less need to recover what is lost.

The day ended with the team of volunteers and rangers watching the sun go down over the waves of the Baltic seas. It will rise again in the Curonian Lagoon, as it does every day, in a cycle that Lithuanian Lions hope to keep intact for generations to come.