LITHUANIA JOINS AEWA
Lithuania has recently submitted its instruments of accession to the AEWA and will become the Agreement's 48th Contracting Party as of 1st November 2004. This is an Eastern European country, bordering Latvia on the north, Belarus on the east, Poland and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation on the west. Lithuania belongs to the Baltic States, having 99 km of coastline on the Baltic Sea. The country's territory covers 65,300 km2, it is generally flat with some hilly landscapes, the highest point reaching 293 m. Just over half of the territory is used for farming, whilst some 30% is covered by mainly coniferous forest, only 4% is inland waters (ca. 2,600 km2) in the form of numerous scattered small lakes. Nearly 11% of the country falls within protected areas.
Lithuania has significant importance for several waterbird species, currently covered by the Agreement, such as the globally threatened Steller's Eider Polysticta stelleri, Corncrake Crex crex and Great Snipe Gallinago media, as well as having substantial national breeding populations of some species of European conservation concern - Bittern Botaurus stellaris, Black Stork Ciconia nigra, Spotted Crake Porzana porzana, Little Crake Porzana parva, Common Crane Grus grus, Little Gull Larus minutus, Little Tern Sterna albifrons and Black Tern Chlidonias niger. Other AEWA species, represented with large winter congregations are Long-tailed Duck Clangula hyemalis, Velvet Scoter Melanita fusca, Merganser Mergus merganser and Smew Mergus albellus.
Lithuania has already acceded earlier to other international treaties, i.e. the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention on Migratory Species, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the World Heritage Convention, the Convention on Climate Change, the Convention to Combat Desertification, etc. On behalf of the Contracting Parties the UNEP/ AEWA Secretariat welcomes Lithuania to the 'AEWA family'.