Poleski National Park
The symbol of the Park is the crane (Grus grus) which is rare and threathened with extinction.
Poleski National Park was founded on May 1, 1990, in the western part of the Leczynsko-Wlodawska Plain, which is located in the center of Polesie Lubelskie. The plain itself lies between the valleys of the Wieprz River and the Bug River. The Park protects the environment, which is typical in eastern Poland. Its total area is 9,759 ha, and of this area some 428 ha, including the nature reserve Bubnow Fen (Bagno Bubnow), remains under strict protection. Approximately 65 km of tourist trails invites visitors to tour the Park.
Poleski National Park was the first National Park in Poland that was established with the mandate to protect peatbog and swamp areas. The Parks' area includes a unique territory, which is a miniature of tundra at its extreme southwest European location. Its borders encompass the most precious parts of Polesie Lubelskie, including lakes and floodplains, as well as swamps and peatbogs, which survived until now in a relatively unaltered shape. The other physiographic features of the Park include characteristic marsh landscape and karstic lakes. Preservation of the Park habitats depends critically on the water balance in this complicated ecosystem, therefore the management of the water resources at the level ensuring equilibrium in the environment is essential. The water habitats and the surrounding plant communities have been developing for several thousand years, owing it to the balance maintained by nature. Lakes of the region were maturing and overgrowing in different ways. Older lakes, those of the karstic origin, are being overgrown to a less significant extent. In the last several dozen years before the Park was established, an accelerated drainage of area has occurred. It was caused by the human activity and resulted in changes, which would not come by any natural process. It is expected that the protection offered by the Park should prevent such undesirable drainage from reoccurring, and that restoration of the natural conditions and shape of these areas may be achieved. Observing the changes in lowmoor, transitional, highmoor and carbonate peatbogs, which allow for an evaluation of the changes occurring in the water conditions, monitors the restoration process.
Peatbogs, meadows and forests predominate among the vegetation formations of the Park. Forests occupy 4,131 ha of the Park area, including 110 ha remaining under strict protection. Approximately 930 species of vascular plants have been found in the Park. Among some 170 rare species, 57 have been protected. The rare plants that are found in the Park include 6 species of club-mosses, 3 species of sundew, 15 species of orchid, as well as globe flower, lousewort and irises. Poleski National Park is unique in Europe because of simultaneous presence of a large number of plants typical for a northern climatic zone (for example northern birch tree and Laponian willow) and for an Atlantic zone (for example three species of sundews, aldrovanda, scheuchzeria and water nimfoil).
An abundant fauna inhabits the Park. Among the living creatures inhabiting this place, humble invertebrates are richly represented. It has been ascertained that approximately 180 species of rotifers, including 16, which have never been found in Polish fauna before, 64 species of cladocerans, and 35 species of copepods, live in the Park. Three relict species of ants are the most interesting among the rich group of insects. The waters of the Park are inhabited by 35 species of fish and reptiles including rare lake minnows. Turtles, which used to be typical of this region, and fire-bellied toads, are the most interesting among the amphibians and reptiles of the Park. The mammal species noted in the Park include ermine, otter, elk (North American - moose), beaver, and large predators such as wolves.
The avifauna of the Park is particularly rich. 146 bird species nests here, among them the hen harrier and red-legged falcon, are endangered species. Some 15 other species, including great snipe, short-eared owl, bluethroat, redshank, lesser spotted eagle, black stork, scarlet rosefinch, crane, tattler, curlew, aquatic warbler and Montagu's harrier are considered to be rare. Approximately 30 % of the Polish population of aquatic warbler live in the habitat of the Bubnow Fen (Bagno Bubnow). The protection of this area, together with the protection of the Biebrza Marshes and of several smaller regions in Western Poland, may be essential for the survival of aquatic warbler on the entire European continent.
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