Kaliningrad - Terrain
Most of the territory is lowland. The total land area in the region is 1.512.500 ha. Arable land accounts for 372,000 ha, on pasture - 227,200 ha, on hay meadows - over 130,500 ha. State Forest Land occupies 271,000 ha. Other land users (settlements, objects of industry, transport, communications, etc.) occupy over 200,000 ha, land of specially protected natural territories and objects make up about 19,500 ha.
Territory area is covered by a dense network of watercourses - an average of 1 km of watercourses per 1 km2area. Most of the rivers are small, 6 rivers are longer than 100 km. Under reservoirs of various types, 230 thousand hectares are occupied. Rivers belong to the Baltic Sea basin. The longest rivers on the territory of the Kaliningrad region are the Pregolya (123 km) and the Neman (115 km) united by a system of channels. Many rivers are straightened and regulated for shipping.
The territory of the region is located in the extreme west of the Russian Plain and the southeast coast of the Baltic Sea. The surface is characterized by the alternation of small hills and lowlands with average heights from 0 to 50 m. The central and northern parts of the region are occupied by vast lowlands: Pregolskaya, Polesskaya, Lower Neman and Sheshupskaya. Within the Lower Neman lowland, in areas adjacent to the coast of the Curonian lagoon, there are vast territories lying below sea level - polders.
In the southern part of the region, bordering Poland, there are two large elevations: Warmi and Vistynetsk, elevated 150-200 m above sea level. A small elevated plateau 40-50 m high occupies the central part of the Sambian Peninsula - the Sambian Upland. Chains of hills 50-60 m high, stretching in the submeridional direction, are observed along the right bank of the river. The instruch from its confluence with the river I will cross in the area of Chernyakhovsk. This is the Instruch ridge. The Curonian and Vistula sand spits, separating the bays of the same name from the Baltic Sea, stretch for 98 and 87 km, respectively, in the north-east and south-east directions from the Sambian Peninsula. The width of the braids is small and on average does not exceed 2 - 4 km. A chain of advanced low sand dunes (avanduns) with a height of 3-5 m to 10-15 m stretches along the sea coast. Large sections of sand dunes are located in the areas of braids adjacent to the coast of the bays: up to 50-60 m high on the Curonian Spit and up to 30-40 m on Vistlinskaya. Their outer slopes are gentle; the slopes facing the bays are steep. Under the influence of the prevailing westerly winds, these dunes gradually move eastward, stepping on the bay.
Currently, the main type of forest is broad-leaved spruce. Broad-leaved forests differ in composition of tree species from the subtaiga forests of the more eastern regions of the Russian Plain by the presence of hornbeam and sometimes beech along with oak. The main forest-forming species are pine, oak, maple, birch, with a pronounced dominance of spruce. The total land area of the forest fund is 300.8 thousand ha, the forest cover is 18.5%, the total standing timber stock is 41.7 million cubic meters.
The Kaliningrad region has more favorable conditions for agriculture than most other Russian regions do. Nevertheless, these conditions are often inferior to those of the neighbouring European countries. Almost the whole territory of the region is a lowland plain with areas lying below current sea level. Only in the extreme South-East, hills reach a height of over 200 m (up to 242 m) above sea level. The average absolute height of land surface above sea level is only 15 m. In Russia, this parameter is lower only in Kalmykia and the Astrakhan region, which are located in the Caspian Depression. Many sections of land bordering on the lagoons lie below sea level. These are polder lands, which account for approximately 1,000 km2 – over a half of all polders of the former USSR. Polder lands meant for agricultural exploitation are surrounded by dams of a length of over 700 km and crisscrossed with drainage canals.
Kaliningrad has a rather complicated drainage system - problematic for both secondary watering, and for the reconstruction of the system. There are many abandoned peatlands in the Neman River basin. Often these once agricultural lands are bogged because drainage channels cannot be cleaned.
In the Soviet period, there were considerable public investments in the maintenance of the drainage canal system. One hundred eighty large farms – sovkhozes and kolkhozes – were operating in the region at the time. During privatisation, they were replaced by smaller farms, medium-sized joint stock companies and several large private companies. Today, household farms account for a large proportion of the agricultural produce.
Over 32,400 ha are occupied by swamps in the region. They are located mainly in the northern part of the region on the territory of Slavsky, Polesskyand Krasnoznamensky districts. Marshes occupy 7% of the territoryarea. Balt (Bait) - probably from the Prussian “bait” - “swamp”. There are opinions about borrowing this Prussian word from the Polish language, where “bloto” is “swamp”, which is unlikely. The Prussian “Balt” can be compared with the Lithuanian “bait” - “white”.
There are no entirely impenetrable marshes in the Kaliningrad Region. For a traveller who knows how to walk on it and not climb on peat fields - everything will be fine. There are 4 types of swamps:
- passable. On the surface are dense thickets of vegetation. It is not difficult to cross such a section of the road in drought; The stable surface of the swamp is a dense carpet of the remains of vegetation. It is easy enough to tear, and then the territory will become dangerous.
- impassable. Between shrubs, grass and moss there are scattered open areas. The territory is held individually. At the same time, they step on the moss covered with moss or other plants;
- impassable. Plant cover floats on the surface, reeds predominate. They take increased security measures, pre-inspect the territory for a more secure route. They walk with their whole feet to bumps near trees and shrubs;
- swamps - swampy water bodies. They are always bypassed.
With an area of 2,600 ha the Celau [Zehlau] peatland is one of the largest peatlands in the Kaliningrad regeion. The bog was designated as a natural monument 100 years ago and was one of the earliest protected peatlands in Europe. However, the ecosystem has suffered from anthropogenic pressure since that time. In the beginning of the 20th century an active drainage system still crossed the surface of the peatland. In the meantime the drainage channels had been filled up completely and the drainage of the area has (almost) ceased. After World War II the Russian army installed a military training area atthe margin of the peatland. Territoryswamps are part of the land of the military department, whose functions are reflected in natureswamps. Exploration work is underway to search for oil, for which it is usedtracked vehicles. The swamp is intensively visited by the local population and trampled down.There are old reclamation ditches (presumably the beginning of the century).
The Tselaubrukh upland swamp is not the familiar mud and sedge, but continuous mosses with holes - small pits (there are many of them in Russia, but for Europe this is a unique phenomenon). At first, the swamp itself seems like a wonderful and nice place - small birch trees grow around, soft moss everywhere, there is practically no water, and the soil underfoot is almost hard.
The Great Moss Swamp is the largest in the Kaliningrad region - its area is 5,000 hectares. The age of the swamp is about ten thousand years. On its territory you can find plants that are unique not only in the Kaliningrad region, but throughout Russia. This swamp is home to rare and specially protected species of birds. There are also about 30 species of moss, 60 species of roe deer, 55 species of wild boars, 30 species of beavers, 20 species of foxes and other rare animals.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|