ASSESSMENT OF ECOLOGICAL BALANCE IN THE CONTEXT OF LANDSCAPE CHANGE
Keywords:landscape, ecological balance, sustainable development, land use
This paper presents an assessment of ecological balance based on changes in landscape elements. This assessment was performed in Utena, Skuodas and Šakiai districts. The study was conducted after determining the land use change over 10 years, that is to say in 2011 and 2021, a comparison of changes in land use structure, a multi-criteria analysis, and a SWOT analysis were summarized. After analyzing Utena, Skuodas and Šakiai districts, it was established that the most significant changes in Utena district were the areas of agricultural land, which decreased by about 4 percent and forest areas, which increased by about 2 percent. In Skuodas district, the most significant changes were in the occupied areas - they decreased by 0.75 precent and built-up areas, which increased by about 0.75 percent. In Šakiai district, the biggest changes were found in the area of built-up areas - they increased by about 1.35 percent, and other land areas, which decreased by about 1.50 percent. The multi-criteria analysis revealed that the ecological balance of Utena district is good: the value of the normal priority function is 0.7462, and the value of the linear priority function is 0.50. The ecological balance of Šakiai district is poor: the value of the usual priority is -0.3750, and the value of the linear priority function is -0.50. According to the SWOT analysis, Utena and Skuodas districts have a “strong” natural environment. However, the weaknesses of all areas are large areas of agricultural land, which can have both negative and positive effects on the ecological balance, depending on who they are used for.