Schroetter's land survey (1795-1802)

Schroetter's Land Survey is the first map of the Curonian Spit on the basis of which it is possible to make a quantitative estimate of land use. This applies equally to the resolution of the map as well as to the geometry of the representation. Thus, the size and shape of the Curonian Spit is represented approximately correctly on Schroetter's map. Only the Müffling map of 1830 provides better results.

On the basis of Schroetter's map it is possible to distinguish between forest, settlement areas, grassland, agricultural areas, herbaceous and shrub vegetation and wetlands. The majority of the Curonian Spit is depicted as a sandy area with dunes (about 80 %). The largest share of the overgrown areas is forest (8.26 %), followed by wetlands, bog and fen (4.95 %).

On the map, the vegetated areas can be found spread over the entire Curonian Spit, but they are almost always located near the settlements. The only settlement without a vegetated area nearby is Sandkrug in the north of the Curonian Spit. In proximity to the other, more southerly settlements, there is a certain area of forest, with scattered areas of shrubland and herbaceous vegetation in between. Only the two southernmost spit villages are an exception to this. The only agricultural areas on the Curonian Spit are located near Rossitten. Moreover, south of Sarkau, the southernmost place on the Curonian Spit, there are larger wetlands, fractures and bogs in addition to forests. The southernmost place shown on the map is Cranz, which is no longer on the Curonian Spit.

The remarkably high proportion of free sand areas is to be discussed critically. In the representation, 80 % of the headland consists of free sand, which is 30 percentage points more than on the subsequent maps. At the same time, the proportion of forest, at 8.26%, is similarly low as in the map series that followed Schroetter's Land Survey. In contrast, the proportion of areas with herb/shrub cover is surprisingly low at 2.2%. This corresponds to less than one tenth of the subsequent mappings.

Although various sources report massive deforestation on the Curonian Spit in the 18th century, the proportion of forest in the subsequent mappings is similarly high compared to Schroetter's map. However, the proportion of low-lying vegetation in the map is conspicuously reduced. Since the problem of siltation continued to exist after 1830, i.e. after the next mapping, the low-lying vegetation seems to have had only a subordinate influence here. Thus it would either be possible that the low-lying vegetation increased in the 35 years or so between the mapping of the Schroetter and Müffling surveyors, or there is a connection with the technique or the objective of the survey.

The second case seems more likely. While the objective of Müffling's mapping was a comprehensive and standardised recording of the landscape, the objective of the recording during Schroetter's survey was both less comprehensive and at the same time the procedures were less standardised. The high proportion of free sand may therefore be an artefact of the survey.


Square kilometres


Herb/shrub cover (incl. grey dune)






Water area (except lagoon and Baltic Sea)






Settlement area and immediate surroundings



Grassland (incl. sparse tree population)



Agricultural land










Methodological note: The explanatory map description refers to the derived form of the map, which is shown on the left. For this purpose, the land use type or the ecotope was derived from the signatures of the original map and presented in a summarised map. In this form, the height information was completely omitted, which is why it is only taken into account here in the form of additional information. This information relates in particular to the distribution and form of the dunes that are so characteristic of the spit.