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Bieszczady National Park

Geographic locality
Bieszczady National Park is the third largest national park in Poland It is located in the far south-east, at the borders with the Slovak Republic and Ukraine.

Development of The Park
Bieszczady National Park was established in 1973 with an area of 57,25 sq. km. It protected then only a few patches of the most valuable areas - fragments of mountain meadows and surrounding forest. The park was enlarged three times (1989, 1991, 1996). In 1989 and in 1991 the park obtained a large area of natural forests and seminatural complexes of non-forest vegetation where the villages once stood. In 1996 the park increased its protection over the lower meadows which were former villages: Bukowiec, Beniowa and Carynskie. At present BNP covers 278.3 sq. km of the highest elevation of the Bieszczady Mts. There are the possibilities that the park may expend North to the San valley, and Nort-West to area of Solinka river catchment. Since 1992 BNP has been a part of the International Biosphere Reserve called Eastern Carpathians. It is consisted of three units: 1. Polish (the Bieszczady NP, and two surrounding landscape parks - Cioniansko-Wetlinski and the Upper San Valley), 2. Slovak (Poloniny National Park) 3. Ukrainian (Nature Reserve Stu?ica).

BNP is one of the few European mountainous areas with relatively well preserved native flora and fauna. The forested area amounts to 80% and in some areas consist of primeval mountain forests. At the current stage the biocenotic and species diversity is very high. Natural, mostly forest plant communities predominate. Only a few percent of the whole area are covered by seminatural plant communities, which occur mostly in sites of former villages (so called the "country of valleys"). It is worth to remark that the plant cover and the fauna have been created in result of spontaneous secondary, regenerative succession, which has lasted here since the end of World War II. That ecological phenomena doesn't occur so long and at so large scale in other mountainous areas of Central Europe. In the park 760 plant species have been recorded, of which 29 are endemic or species characteristic of East Carpathian flora. Endemic plant species are: cow-wheat Melampyrum saxosum, catchfly Silene dubia, lady's-mantle Alchemilla turculensis. Other than Eastern Carpathian, interesting plant group consist of some 70 alpine and sub-alpine species. Tarnica For this group consist: narcissus anemone Anemone narcisiflora, alpine club-moss Diphasium alpinum, Hypochoeris uniflora. Among the plant species present in BNP 66 species are protected by the law (58 species strictly protected). The proportion of synantropic plant species is relatively low and makes up only 10% of the total number of species, which gives local flora fairly natural character. The world of lower plants is very rich and interesting. There have been recorded about 300 species of lichens, 200 species of mosses and numerous species of fungi. One of the most interesting species is Pleurotus vetlinianus, which occur only in the Bieszczady Mts. The vertical zonation in the Bieszczady has a unique character. Three climatic-vegetation zones can be distinguished: 1. foothills zone (up to 500 m a.s.l.), 2. lower mountain decidous forest zone (500-1150 m a.s.l.) and 3. mountain grassland zone (above 1100-1150 a.s.l. up to 1346 m a.s.l.). Although mountain grassland zone is present, neither the upper forest spruce zone nor the dwarf pine zone occurs between it and the lower mountain forest zone. This phenomenon is regarded as a result of the climatic conditions and anthropogenic pressure in the past ages.The uppermost mountain grassland areas covered by specific alpine and subalpine meadow zone called "polonina". Around 90 % of BNP is covered by forest. The rest of the park is covered by mountain meadows (po3oniny), and non-forest associations in lower altitude ("country of valleys"). Seventy-five plant communities (15 forest, 60 non-forest) have been recorded in the BPN so far. Several of them: Pulmonario-Alnetum viridis, Aceri-Fagetum, Astrantio-Knautietum, Nardetum carpaticum orientale, Poo-Deschampsietum, Vaccinietum pocuticum are regarded as endemic.

Several species of mammals and birds that are recognised as rare or extinct in other parts of Europe inhabit the area of the Bieszczady Mts. Native populations of large carnivorous mammals such as the wolf, bear, and the lynx are a precious part of the Bieszczady wildlife. Winter in Bieszczady Mountains Among the large herbivorous, the red deer has a high population of 5-7 individuals per 100 ha. The European bison was reintroduced to the Bieszczady toward the end of the 1960. The population of bison has adapted itself successfully to the natural conditions of the park. At present in the herd existing in the park there are 20 individuals of bison. There are also populations of roe deer, wild boar and a few individuals of elk. The park has also successfully reintroduced of the beaver. For the last few years a herd of Hucul horses has been bred in the park in order to maintain this typical of this area old rare breed. The Park is a paradise for bird-watchers. Extremely interesting and valuable groups of birds are birds of prey such as: golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, lesser spotted eagle Aquilla pomarina, peregrine falcon Falco peregrinus, short toed eagle Circaaetus gallicus, booted eagle Hieraeetus pennatus, honey buzzard Pernis apivorus, and owls: eagle owl Bubo bubo and Ural owl Strix uralensis. On the mountain grassland are nesting alpine bird species like: water pipit Anthus spinoletta, Alpine accentor Prunella collaris and rock thrush Monticola saxatilis. Another curiosity among animals is the Aesculapian snake Elaphe longissima, present only a few exist certain locations of Poland; the largest population inhabits a species reserve along the San river corridor, north from BNP border. The fauna of invertebrates of the Bieszczady Mts. has clear Eastern-Carpathian character. Numerous species typical for the Eastern Carpathians one can find among insects, too.

The main protective aims of The Park
The main aims protection of the park are:
- typical landscape for the Eastern Carpathians with the richness of relief forms,
- the characteristic layer arrangement of the vegetation,
- the main concentration of rare plant and animal species, alpine and Eastern-Carpathian plant communities,
- natural biocenoses of the Carpathian primeval forest with rich fauna of large predators: mammals and birds. Rosiczka The protection is enable because of low density of human population (less than 4 persons/sq. km).
The protective zonation in BNP and in IBR "Eastern Carpathians" The area of the International Biosphere Reserve "Eastern Carpathians" is divided into three zones. The strictly and partly protected zones of the Bieszczady National Park are adequate to Core Zone and Buffer Zone of the IBR "Eastern Carpathians". This division determine people activities. In areas which are subject to strict protection any human activity is forbidden. They are left for nature gradual evolution towards natural state. Entrance is allowed only for scientific research and hiking along marked tourists trails. In the partially protected area small hotels, camping and parking spots and restaurants are located. In this zone some conservative measures can be employed. There are good conditions for the development of tourism and recreation in the Transitional Zone of the International Biosphere Reserve "Eastern Carpathians" (which is composed of two surrounding B.N.P. Landscape Parks). In their areas agricultural farms, small boarding houses, ski-hoists are located.

Tourism and education
There are good conditions for the tourism, especially for hiking, horseriding, cross country skiing, cycling and natural photography. As most of the BNP area (70%) has the status of strictly protected zone, the public access to the park require a well prepared system of marked tourist trails, nature tracks and controlling observation by visitors. In BNP ecological tourism is promoted. In order to achieve this goal the system of nature tracks has been created. The park staff provide field training based on them. BNP runs field workshops for elementary schools, secondary schools, university students, teachers and for other groups. The Research and Educational Centre of BNP employ a few specialists for ecological education. Their role is interpretation of ecological phenomena. They also provide field and class lessons in which modern didactic techniques are used. The main part of the educational activities are permanent courses for pupils from over 30 schools located within the boundaries of the International Biosphere Reserve and its vicinity. To create suitable facilities for workshops a Field Station of Ecological Education in Suche Rzeki was opened in 1996.