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Lithuania’s new Red Book warns about the fate of 767 rare and endangered species



Today, on the 19th of June, the newly released Lithuanian Red Book was presented at the Botanical Institute in Verkių Palace. Fifty-seven researchers and naturalists compiled this grand illustrated nearly 800-page publication of the Ministry of Environment. According to the Minister of Environment Arūnas Kundrotas, the red colour of the book is to warn about the fate of rare and endangered species of animals, plants, lichens and mushrooms in our country. The book lists 767 species, which include 23 mammals, 80 birds, 123 insects, 221 phanerogams, 93 mosses, 112 mushrooms, 63 lichens, etc.

Although the Red Book initiated by the world’s most renowned naturalists has already become a generic term, it dates back merely 40 years. The Lithuanian Red Book is younger by almost a decade. Its lists were first approved in 1976. Our first Red Book included 41 species of birds and one genus of bumble bees as well as 30 plant species. By the way, back in 1962, the list of protectable plants including 176 species was approved.

The first national Red Book not only helped to protect valuable marshes, creeks and valleys, meadows and woods from destruction, but also promoted research on rare species and their habitats. Therefore the subsequent Lithuanian Red Book published in 1992 already contained 501 species of animals, plants, mushrooms and lichens. Now after 15 years this figure jumped by more than two hundred. However, lengthening lists of rare and endangered species, according to director of the Botanical Institute and chief editor of the new Red Book Valerijus Rašomavičius, evidence not the worsening conditions for rare species to survive, but rather the fact that the knowledge and information about them are enhancing.

Lithuanian Red Book, apart from being lists and descriptions of rare and endangered species, is also a legal instrument, which provides a reference point for organising protection of those species in the country and for developing nature management plans for their preservation. The threat of extinction has already been removed from otters, aurochs, crakes, twaite shad, and medical leeches. These species have been preserved. Unfortunately, even the Red Book is not omnipotent: quite a few species are on the edge of extinction. For instance, the fate of the lynx, which seems to be the usual dweller in our forests, has been the issue of concern. Seniors still remember that three decades ago these animals were hunted in Lithuania. However, as research commissioned by the Ministry of Environment shows, only about 70 are left.

The society can feel at peace about the future of rare and endangered species only when the aims 

defined in the Red Book become its need. Environmental protection, in the words of the Minister of Environment Arūnas Kundrotas, aims at protecting nature, as paradoxical as it may sound, from the human being. To change this relation and to protect any species of plants, animals or mushrooms from extinction, we have to let nature live according to its laws and not subject it to our own.

Public Information Division, Tel. 266 3660

19 June 2007



Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas
Minister of Environment of Lithuania Kęstutis Navickas