Geography is one of the oldest university disciplines, the beginning of lecturing at Vilnius University is associated with K. Virvičius, T. Žebrauskas, M. Počobutas, and later also with J. Sniadeckis and J. Lelevelis names. The predecessor of the Department of Geography and Land Management – the Department of Physical Geography – in Vilnius University, during the Polish occupation called S. Batoras, was established in 1920. (de jure) and 1925 (de facto), its leader was the famous Vilnius geographer M. Limanovskis at that time.
The formation of the current Department of Geography and Land Management began with the recovery of Vilnius University after World War II, but until 1992 was held in two autonomous directions. The main direction began in 1944. Two small departments of Physical Geography (headed by K. Bieliukas) and Cartography (headed by Vaclovas Chomskis) were established at the Faculty of Nature. were merged into one Department of Physical Geography and Cartography (headed by Vaclovas Chomskis, since 1968 Alfonsas Basalykas, since 1986 Česlovas Kudaba, since 1990 V. Dvareckas). Another direction was developed at the Faculty of Economics, where in 1944-1947 operated the Department of Economic Geography (headed by A. Kvedaras) later integrated into the Department of National Economy (headed by J. Bučas). Separated again as an independent Department of Economic History and Geography (headed by L. Jasinskas, since 1976 J. Kunčina) and in 1990 changed its name to the Department of Economic and Political Geography (headed by S. Vaitekūnas). In 1992 after the staff of this department joined the Department of Physical Geography and Cartography, the latter changed its name to the Department of General Geography and Cartography (headed by V. Dvareckas). After the establishment of an independent Cartography Center, it was reorganized into the Department of General Geography (headed by Algimantas Česnulevičius, since 2000 Paulius Kavaliauskas), which in 2006 changed its name again and became the current Department of Geography and Land Management (head Paulius Kavaliauskas, since 2011 Darijus Veteikis).
Research interests of the Department of Geography and Land Management of the VU Institute of Geosciences include monitoring of natural, political, social, and economic processes, spatial analysis, separation of spatial structures, the quantitative and qualitative assessment and cartographic visualization, landscape, and society change forecasts, the state of the various areas of regional policymaking, the country and the territorial land management and strategic planning optimization issues.
Since 2017, continuing his previous work, scientists of the Department of Geography and Land Management focus on remote landscape, biotope and soil observations and spatial analysis, study changes in the landscape and land use write scientific works on urban and rural geography, lifestyle, medicine and health geography, conduct research on migration, depopulation, electoral geography.
VU geographers constantly research and know best the character of the Lithuanian landscape, the course of natural and Human-made processes, know the tendencies of the change of the territory of the country, anticipate perspectives, actively speak out on the issues of preserving the country's identity, ecological and aesthetic values. The Department of Geography and Land Management gave birth to and practically implemented the ideas of the Lithuanian network of protected areas and the formation of the natural skeleton. Geographers are aware of the problems of declining Lithuania (dwindling population) and make a significant contribution to explaining the cultural landscape development and seek to preserve ancient place names. They have mastered modern GIS and remote sensing technologies, using unmanned aircraft to collect ground surface information.
In recent years the Geography and Land Management Department researchers carried out in the Lithuanian landscape change and stability, political, cultural, social, and economic territorial structure of the studies relied on providing the Lithuanian vision of the future, the preparation of key national space – use of territorial planning documents (National Landscape management plan of the Republic of Lithuania master plan, protected areas plans, etc.).
VU geographers have a strong say in Lithuania's demographic forecasts, population migration, and rural development, and are indispensable in determining the boundaries of electoral districts and analyzing election results.
In the field of Lithuanian geography, the fields of remote soil research, the impact of renewable energy on the landscape, visual assessment of the landscape, urban green spaces, and research on ecosystem services are growing in Lithuanian Geographical Science. The science of geography allows all processes to be analyzed at the local, regional and national levels, and the results of the research are compared with their main trajectories in Europe and the world. Researchers of the Department of Geography and Land Management work closely with geographic research centers in all neighboring countries, Ukraine and Europe, and joint research and research projects link them with colleagues from France, Germany, the USA, Canada, and other countries.
VU geographers are strong researchers, planners, visionaries, they advise not only the various civil services, municipalities, but also farmers on the sustainable use of land and forests, help teachers improve geography lessons, and advise communities.
Due to the integrative nature of geography science, the scientific activity of the Geography and Land Management Department staff is extensive and diverse. In the department, the basics of the country's geomorphological cognition were laid, the morphological school of landscape geography of Lithuania was born, the program for the formation of the system of protected areas was developed and implemented, the concept of the natural frame was developed, methodological provisions for Land management and territorial planning were formed. In addition to these fundamental achievements, other directions of scientific work developed at the department should be mentioned: morphometric research of relief, the analysis of the landscape components interaction and the transformation of the soil, ecological analysis of the plantation system of the urban areas, research of rural and rural landscape development, research of cultural landscape polarization, country administrative and political territorial distribution organization, recreational territorial organization, urban geography, cartography communication quality assessment.
A distinctive feature of the department's activities is the active participation of its staff in the preparation of national planning work and legal acts. These are the complex Lithuanian Nature Protection Scheme, the State Environmental Protection Strategy, the Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan of Lithuania’s Republic, national and regional park planning schemes, Klaipėda and Vilnius city development strategic plans, the General (Master) Territory Plan of Lithuania’s Republic, counties and municipalities the general plans, Lithuania’s Republic Law on Protected Territories, Law on Lithuanian Republic Territory Administrative Units and Their Boundaries, Law on Forests of the Republic of Lithuania, Law on Territorial Planning of Lithuania’s Republic, Law on Geodesy and Cartography of Lithuania’s Republic, etc. Prof. P. Kavaliauskas 1995 was awarded the V. V. Adamkus prize for the achievements in environmental protection and 2004 Lithuanian science prize for applied science, doc. J. Mačiulytė was awarded the Conrad Malta-Bruno prize by the French Society of Geographers for research on the change of agrarian territories, and even 5 of the department staff with students were awarded the orders of an independent Lithuanian state.
The Department of Geography and Land Management is purposefully working to improve its material base and expand international relations. There is a cooperation with Poland (Warsaw, Krakow, Torun, Olsztyn), France (Paris, Montpellier), the Netherlands (Wageningen), Germany (Munich, Bamberg), Great Britain (London), Estonia (Tartu), Ukraine (Kiev), Spain (Valencia) geographical departments of universities, the Society for the Protection of Ecosystems in Japan and the Global Asahi Foundation, the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Committee of the European Landscape Convention, it has participated in various projects of the international PHARE program.