Wigry National Park
Krzywe 82, 16-400 Suwałki
Wigry National Park is located in the north-east part of Poland, in Podlaskie Voivodeship. Its northern part lies within the East Suwalki Lakeland, while the southern part within the Augustow Plain. The Park was established in 1989 over the area of 14,956 ha. Currently, its area is 15,086 ha and includes 9,464 ha of forests, 2,908 ha of waters, and 2,714 ha of other, mostly agricultural land (2,229 ha). 623 ha which consists of 120 ha of forests are strictly protected. Agriculturally managed areas are encompassed by landscape protection.
The Park landscape was shaped during the Baltic Glaciation period, when for a long period of time, the glacier covered the north part of what is now the Wigry National Park. The southern part was a place of accumulation of materials coming from the ice-front. The northern part of the Park is rolling, with large basal moraines and single hills of the frontal moraine, some of which are elevated above the level of the terrain by even 35 m. The base of this part of the Park is built of clays, gravels and sands with stones of various mineral composition. The southern part is more flat and covered by a thick layer of sandy outwash. A diversified and attractive landscape of the Wigry National Park can be well observed at aerial photos.
Numerous lakes and small water basins are remnants of the glaciation periods. They have various shapes, areas and depth. The Park is a site of 42 lakes, the largest being Wigry Lake of 2,187 ha of area and up to 73 m in depth. It occupies the central part of the Park. Lakes represent different limnological types and vary in terms of productivity, thermal stratification, and concentration of humus compounds. Particularly interesting are small dystrophic lakes situated within the forests, surrounded by peatmoss communities, called "suchary". The main river of the Park is the Czarna Hancza, which is also a well know canoeing route.
Almost 1000 species of vascular plants (including about 60 protected species), over 200 species of bryophyte and liverworts, as well as 300 species of lichens were found in the Park. The flora is characterised by a presence of many species associated with northern climatic zone. Forests, which cover most of the Park area represent almost all types of forest communities found in the north-east Poland. Typical communities, occupying large areas are mixed forests with either reed grass and pine or reed grass and spruce, as well as mixed forests with hazel and spruce. Apart from 19 forest associations, there are about 90 other plant associations, many of which are rare in the country. The most natural are alder carrs and marshy coniferous forests. Peatbogs communities with shrubby birch, rare species of liverworts and common and great sundews, cranberry (Oxycoccus microcarpus), crowberry, Saxifraga hirculus, should also be given particular attention. High number of plant species and communities is a result of physiographical diversity of the terrain, richness of habitats and the history of the vegetation development.
To date, 46 species of mammals, 202 species of birds, 12 species of amphibians, 5 species of reptiles have been found in the Park. The most representative species among mammals is beaver which lives along river and lake banks in large numbers. At present its population was estimated at about 250 animals. Large predators are represented by wolfs (a couple of animals). Raptors, e.g. sea eagle, common buzzard, lesser spotted eagle, black kite, red kite, marsh harrier, are particularly interesting among the avian fauna. The following species can be met on the Park waters: swans, many species of ducks, grebes, coot, black-headed gull, and less frequently, red-crested pochard, and goosander. Fish are represented by 32 species, e.g. white-fish (pigmarane), European white-fish, European smelt, bream, tench, pike, eel, and reintroduced lake trout and wels. About 1,500 species of invertebrate were found in the Park, including rare and protected species of butterflies, beetles, hymenopterans, and dipterans.
Human activity in the area goes back to the Old Stone Age. It is proved by findings from over 184 archeological sites. The most interesting historical sites include: monastery complex that remained after the Wigry Camaldolite brothers who were present there between 1667 and 1800. Currently the complex belong to the Ministry of Culture and Art. In 1920, a limnological research station was established in Plociczno village, which began the research programme of Wigry lake. The station was operating until 1939.
The region of Suwalki, including its part - the Wigry National Park, is very attractive for tourism, especially popular during summer season. Hikers and bikers will find here about 190 km of trails. Sailors and anglers have camping sites and the largest lakes at their disposal (with some restrictions, however). In the Park proximity many holiday centres are located. The above mentioned monastery complex from the 17th Century, overlooking the Wigry Lake, enjoys special interest from the Park visitors.
Wigry National Park website
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