Friday, July 29, 2005

Beskid Śląski i Żywiecki

My new entry will be about Beskid Sląski i Zywiecki in Silesian Voivodenship. I like Beskidy mountains very much. They arenot specially high mountains but you can have a really nice rest while visiting them during weekend. Unfortunatelly I am not having too many time today to write more things about the most beautiful places in Beskidy and how to reach them in a shortest/easiest way but soon I will surely present more things.
Today I would like to start with two general maps - the first of Beskid Sląski, the second of Beskid Zywiecki.
Here beneath is the map of Beskid Slaski and places I like there the most:

So looking above you can see 3 black squares/rectengulars. They mark 3 important towns in this region. The biggest rectengular marks Bielsko-Biala (this city is surely easy to be found on each map because it is the biggest in the whole Beskidy region at all). Then you can see two other squares - first marks Ustron town, and second Wisla. Besides on the map above you can also see three names of three mountains underlined with black lines (and two of them additionally marked with a black ring). First of two mountains both underlined with a black line and marked by a circle is CZANOTORIA mountain which is 995 metres high and you can reach it easily without effort while sitting in comfortable chairs (let's say) or climb up (2 hours from Wisla). As deals BARANIA GORA - another marked mountain - this mountain is about 1225 metres high and no chairs to reach it - only your legs can help you but it is really worthy to put some effort and reach a peak of this mountain cause both the slopes and its peak are really rich in beautiful landscapes. Finally ROWNICA - is the last and the lowest of 3 underlined peaks on the map of Beskid Sląski ( not circled by me) that I would like to present today. It it merely 885 metres high but also worthy of climbing (about 2 hours from Ustroń) cause on its top you can have both a nice view and eat a good sausage in a pub on its peak that is really specific as you will see while visiting it.

Now time for short presentation of Beskid Zywiecki. Look at another map beneath:

This time only two rectengulars and two underlined things. First marked rectengular is at the top of the screen and marks Zywiec town - everyone who once visited Poland should know what kind of beverage is produced in Zywiec. If you don't know I can help you - the most popular (probably) Polish beer. Though I am not sure if this beer is the most popular cause I simply don't drink any beer at all:( Second rectengular on the map above marks Zwardon town - the town you have to reach (for example by train) when you want to climb WIELKA RACZA mountain (1236 m) - that is about 4 hours on foot from Zwardon. There is a hotel on Wielka Racza and you can eat something and sleep there to start new trail the next day. Of course there are many other interesting peaks and places both in Beskid Sląski and Zywiecki but I am not able to write about everything in one entry. I like Wielka Racza very much cause when you are lucky from observatory platform on its peak you can see some views of mountains that you can never forget:)

I hope you enjoy reading about Beskid Sląski and Zywiecki. You can compare the maps from this entry with the map with general view of Nature Parks within Silesian Voivodeship that I presented in my bog on 21st July 2005.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

"The Old Birch"

Well... I am comming back to continue my English language blog after a couple of days of break. I didn’t plan this break at all like I didn’t plan many other things in my life. It just happened against my will but now the highest time to go on.
In all my entries till today I tried to be focused rather on achievemnets and merits of local nature protection, specially within the area of my familiar Silesian Voivodeship.
This region is mostly known for its industrial past and it used to be a centre of coal-mining, steel-mining, Polish chemistry and similar industries till 1990 when Polish government recognized this all Silesian industry as having no perspective because of its little profit and decided both to privatize the best factories and close down the rest with no other option for unemployed people unlike encouraging them to leave faster and faster via giving big so-called dismiss money and some profits/low-rated loans for those brave who would decide to set up their own businesses instead of working in state ones.
This way Warsaw government made up another crazy and unrealistic idea of how to change a hard working Silesian miner into capitalistic manager of his own firm.
As wise people who read this message can suspect miners took their dismiss money, bought a car and some furniture and started to overuse alcohol the more after having no money and job soon.
Well but you can ask me rightly at this moment what these economical problems I have described above have to do with environmental protection? Oh – a lot of – I would answer.
Silesia isn’t any mining centre today, any steel basin anymore, no smoking chimneys, no noise, no dirt in the air. We still have 8 Nature Parks and the air here is now totally clear. I mean you can breathe it in without any fear of causing a cancer of your lungs in the future cause no fumes anymore now! This way - you can see –evidently something must be lost to have a gain somewhere else .
This Nature Park I do my research in was established in 1998. So it is rather a young Nature Park. Alltogether the idea of Nature Parks system in Poland is rather new because its has been started in 70ties of last century but this is a good subject for another entry of mine.
But comming back into reasons of setting up this particular Nature Park – the origins of its beginning are very complicated but still totally simple as I will tell to you another day. Truly speaking I think it has very few botanical values and (in my opinion) it would be totally enough to establish within its area 3-4 natural reserves to be sure we did for nature everything we were able to do and everything we should have done. But of course (like in case of my unplanned break in writing this blog) very few things in life go the way they should go (at least this is my life-experience).
So instead of writing about plant cover of peatbogs I would like to present you today a place that was supposed to be recognized the biggest watery reserve in official plans/documents of this Nature Park in year 2000 (so called "The Old Birch" area) but which place has been totally totally devastated since that time and I still wonder how could it happen, who agreed to bring any excavators there and what for some people simply totally destroyed this really immpressive watery ecosystem of "The Old Birch" area cause that is local name for this place. Now look at the map on your right above to see on the map of the Park where is this place.
When I saw this place in 2001 I was really enchanted and it looked like on the picture beneath:
I even tried to call some people to get some informations who and what for destroyed it but one of them who seemed to me he should have been really against this common thoughtless devastation (I still cannot see any reason in this all digging and drainage there) started to shout at me that he used to be a director in Poland for about 15 years and I would not be telling him what he should or shouldnot do. His telephone (he called me back to shout at me these things) seemed to me to be really insane – I was just looking for him simply to find out something more what he was thinking about this whole mess there – thus I gave up my further investigation because I really didn’t want to have any problems because of it:(
As deals landscape of this place in 2002 it changed and looked like beneath:

Well, however, I have to admit, till today everyone lies that everything is OK, still any fish in this large pond you can find so I really still don’t understand why 3 years ago someone let out whole water there and digged out tonnes of earth (probably to make it deeper but think what a cost for whole ecosystem there and all in all present level of water is merely half of it used to be in year 2000).
Well… nasty thing you have to admit. But ecologists never waste their time so in the meantime I found there many so called muddy plant assosiations and did my next research as deals new ecological processes that are started in this place – like partial regeneration of these few flora elements that still could find appropriate living conditions there and appearing of new components with a course of succession (like the mentioned above and rarely met in Poland muddy plant asscociations that certify that water in this particular pond used to be really of a highest quality). Look at the next picture below :

The most ironical message is for last. Till today noone wants to answer me what intentions were behind these illegal actions within the area of the pond and water flows of “The Old Birch” –the area of planned watery nature reserve within borders of Nature Park “Forrests upon Upper Liswarta River” and why so many rare watery and moisture-liking plants lost once and forever their seats cause present level of water in this tank is much lower than it used to be and half of the flood waters has still been drying on purpose.
I mean I think I do know who and why decided to dry out this beautiful place but I would have to go to court again and normally sue this man. Hmmm… I am not a worker of Nature Parks adminstration to do such things. And what do the last do? –someone can ask me. Well…in the meantime they built a wooden observatory platform for visitors there to make them possible to admire a puddle that is left after what used to be the amazing flood waters and published next publications about values of watery ecosystems within area of Nature Park “Forrests upon upper Liswarta River”. And here is the mentioned above observatory platform:

AMEN for today. Better news in next entry. I do hope that after some effort is possible to understand my English.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

About Forests upon Upper Liswarta River

Hello again. New day - new entry. I would
like to tell to you bit more about a Nature Park where
I do my research. As you could see on a map in my entry here from 21st. July 2005 I live on the border of one of Nature Parks within Silesian Voivodeship. Now look on your right above at another map of the Park to find out something more about its area. With 3 black rings I have marked areas of two peatbogs that occur within the Park and are really interesting both from botanical point of view and for nature lovers. The last and biggest ring marks my home town.
Now I am going to present to you three pictures taken at these two peatbogs. First is taken in the peatbog situated further to the eastern border of the Park, second and third picture are taken in the peatbog that has benches around so you can rest there or if you have a fishing rod and special permission you can try to catch there quite nice dinner for you and your family. Now I am going to write bit more about functions and values of peatbogs cause I do think everyone should know something more about this subject.
Their role as a carbon sink has gained visibility recently because of its impact on the greenhouse effect and climate change. Natural peatlands emit greenhouse gases such as methane but they also stock a large amount of carbon present in plant debris and peat. Following drainage and extraction, peat is exposed to air and decomposition processes cause the emission of carbon dioxide thus contributing to greenhouse gas build-up in the atmosphere.
Biodiversity is another value that gives special status to peatlands. Since they are unique, acidic ecosystems, peat bogs support specific plant communities. A number of plant and bird species are found only in peatlands. Recent studies suggest that large peat bogs have a higher value because they have a greater variety of habitats such as pools, and hence, a larger number of species.I will write more about flora of the two small peatbogs that occur within area of this particular Nature Park soon.
Peat bogs also play a role in regulating water flow: by stocking water, peat bogs act as buffers, in case of abundant precipitation. The importance of this role appears when peatlands are lost or drained: water that would normally be stocked reaches watercourses more rapidly, thus contributing to higher peak flow.
Peatlands are also used by many people for recreational uses such as fruit picking and hunting (look at the benches on a picture of another peatbog within Nature Park "Forests upon Upper Liswarta River" on your right above- that you can reach by crossing specially constructed wooden foot-bridge without any fear of sinking into the deep, cold water that is under a layer of spongy mossess - look at the photo of this footbridge on your left below ).
Their aesthetic and educational values are also recognized since more people have access to nature interpretation trails, especially in parks.
The function of peatlands as paleo-archives is well known by scientists. Because of the low rate of decomposition and anoxic conditions, many plant parts, especially seeds and pollen, are preserved in peat for thousands of years. With modern techniques of dating the age of organic matter, it is possible to reconstruct past environment and climate through the identification of seeds and pollen present within the superposed peat layers. Thus I have presented the most important functions of peatbogs.
Of course they also produce peat. I hope everyone knows it:)

Friday, July 22, 2005

General ino about Polish Mountains and National Parks

Today I would like to write to you more about Polish mountains. I think it is very important topic. Generally mountains in Poland are situated in the south of our country and we have two big mountaineous ranges within teritory of Poland. Look at the map on your left above to notice two lines at the borders of Poland - one black and another brown. The black line marks a range of Sudety mountains (one of two big mountaineous ranges within territory of Poland). The brown line marks range of Carpathian mountains (the other of two big mountaineous ranges in Poland).
Both big Polish mountaineous ranges are beautiful and worthy to visit. It is important also to add that both are very different.
Today I will focus on Carphathian mountains cause they comprise bigger area and are more differentiated as deals their inner structure. Still looking at the map above notice four colored spots within Carpathian range within the area of Poland. Starting from left side - first spot is green as marks Beskidy mountains (first of four mountaineous ranges within territory of Polish Carpathians), next is pink and marks Tatra mountains (the highest mountains in Poland), then we can see blue spot that shows where Pieniny mountains are situated (where you can flow down the Dunajec river) and the last spot, yellow, states for Bieszczady mountains (last of 4 mountaineous ranges within Polish Carphatian Mountains).
Moreover on the map above you can see one white spot within Silesian voivodeship (my place of living) and two grey rings - the upper one marks location of capital of Poland - Warsaw and second marks location of another important and beautiful Polish city - Cracow (which is much closer to my home town as you can see).
Still looking at the same map you can also check who are neighbours of Poland- starting from the west: Germans, Czechs, Slovakians, Ukrainians, Bialorusians, Lithuanians, Russians. And other neithbours are accross the Baltic Sea (fro example Swedens who attacked Poland some centures ago).

As you can suspect mountaineous areas - as everywhere all over the world - are very precious as deals their special biodiversity and beautiful landscapes so their area is protected by Polish law as area of National Parks. Now look at the map above on your right, which shows location of 23 Polish National Parks and count how many of them are situated within mountaineous parts of Poland.
As you can also notice studying the map above on your right Polish mountaineous areas are not only close to the borders but also also further in the centre of Poland. Of course these mountains resemble rather highlands than "real" mountains to climb up but also some words about their chracteristic features soon.
I hope you are not bored to death while reading my blog.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Time for some maps

Today I would like to tell you more about geography and show some maps that will be necessary to understand many things in future. I will start with a map that shows general view of voievodships in Poland. I live in Silesian voivodeship -it is written ŚLĄSKIE on the map . I hope it is easy for you to find it in the southern part of Poland.I have made a special grey spot to make it even more visible.
Well... as you can suspect there are pros and cons of living in Silesia district. By now, however, I would like to write more about advantages and good sides of my place of living.
Thus I need to present to you another map with some other spots in different colours.

So look on your right now and see the light green colour that shows area of whole Silesian voivodeship- a scale of the map on you right is bit different than a scale of the one above - but it is easy to compare shapes to be sure both comprise the same area. The dark green spots on the map on the right are areas of 8 Nature Parks within boundaries of Silesian voivodeship. Silesian voivodeship doesn't have any National Park till now but who knows what future can bring.
My place of living is where I put a red spot - on the border of Nature Park "Forests upon Upper Liswarta River". The white line is part of Nature Park "Trail of Eagles's Nests" within the area of Silesian Voivodeship ( it is part of Jura Cracow-Czestochowa I was writing about yesterday where National Park is planned to be set up in future). And, finally, the brown line in the southern part of voivodeship marks the border of three mountaineous Nature Parks within Silesian voivodeship that inlude these big parts of Beskidy mountains that lie within Silesian voivodeship of course.
I will write something more about Beskidy soon. Today I can only write that distance between my home (red spot) and Beskidy mountains is about 3-4 hours by train. I have to also add that it is not because it is such a long distance only because trains in Silesian voivodeship go very slow. There are plenty of reasons why some trains can go with a "fascinating" speed of 60 kilometres in...2 hours. Probably the most important is they should be simply modernized. Of course you can take a car but it is not the best solution when you like climbing because you have to go back to the park place what seems to be very uncomfortable solution for mountain hikers.
Soon I will tell you more both about Beskidy mountains and about Nature Park "Forests upon Upper Liswarta" that is adjacent to my home town.
Hope you enjoy reading:)

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Something about Jura and Pieniny

I cannot hide that I belong to this kind of human beings who are really fascinated with nature and have this blessed gift to see its glory and admire it easily everywhere. Of course I realize both how cruel nature can be and that my love towards nature not always have to be returned back to me.
However today I would like to write to you some interesting and mostly nice things about Polish nature not far from my place of birth and living.
First I would like to present to you some links with postcards from Jura Cracow-Czestochowa.
I do think that I am living close to very interesting area. Jura is created by limestoned outcrops that stick out from the earth surface and create rocks in different shapes on the surface of the earth (so called pinnacle erosion forms of the Upper Jurassic limestones). Some of these rocks have really strange shapes and people named these rocks after the shapes they resemble. Look at the English version of postcards from Jura Crcow-Czestochowa to see more:
These limestone rocks are very interesting not only for people who try to climb them up with the help of advanced equipment but also for local flora scientists who try to explore their plant cover. As you can suspect the last isn't too aboundant on such an unfriendly surface but still totally interesting and unique compared to other components of local flora . On a picture above on the right you can see an example of plants that grow on limestone rocks of Jura. I think they are really beautiful.
Moreover, on the postcards in the link above you can see that many castles/ruins of castles are present within area of Jura Crakow-Czestochowa. It is easy to explain. Polish King Kazimierz The Great during his longlasting reign (1333-1370) decided to build about 80 different defensive castles/fortifications in case of war on the south border of his country. Within area of Jura there were several of them and they created a system called as a Trail of Eagles Nests but today most of them are only ruins that enrich landscapes of Jura as you can see on the picture beneath on your left.
As you can expect (like everywhere around the world) the needs of climbers and flora researchers clash in the area of limestone rocks of Jura Crakow-Czestochowa. The first need more and more rocks to practise, the other want to protect unique environement. The most valuable parts of Jura Cracow-Czestochowa are protected by having a status of Nature Park and still many people would like to establish National Park within Jura limestone rocks that would probably reduce tourism with an advantage of wildlife.
Another thing that I would like to tell about today is range of Polish mountains- Pieniny. The picteresque range of limestone Pieniny mountains is not far from my home and not too high to hike. The highest peak (Three Crowns) is merely 982 m high. Its biggest touristic attraction for people who visit Pieniny mountains is about 2,5 hour long flowing down the river Dunajec in special rafts navigated by local carriers via beautiful gorge formed by limestoned mountains in the river valley. Look and admire:
It is recommended, however, to be very cautious when boarding these lovely rafts cause some carriers happen to be tipsy and from time to time bad news on TV that some people sunk in deep and cold waters of Dunajec river because they didn't have any safety jackets and a tipsy raftsman wasnot able to avoid river whirls. Of course such things shouldn't happen at all but life is full of different surprises. Not only nice ones.
I have been in Pieniny Mountains several times till today and hope to come back there soon again.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My first letter

I think today is a good day to start my blog. Good day for a begining of something that can lead me into unknown end. I don't want to reveal too many things about me. I am who I am. Much more than about myself I would like to write about other things but of course at the moment it seems to me immpossible avoiding many subjects connected with the area of my personal opinions- for example what I don't understand/don't agree with/ about things that do scare me/fascinate me. I live in Poland. It is near to Russia - eastern Europe. Starting this blog I would like to write to everyone who is interested in it about my life, my dreams, plans and things I failed in life. I am a teacher, keen on botany and plants. I need to practise my English. Probably that's the most important reason of starting my blog. But not only.
There are some interesting plants on a picture presented by me in this entry. I took it during last spring in local Nature Park. This nice meadow appears between the end of a little forest and a road. I like this picture very much cause the place I shot it at has been lasting within my memory as an oasis of silence, peace, blessed tranquility and rest. As deals plants it shows - the flower with white petals is called Cardamine pratensis in Latin. The grass at the foreground is known as Anthoxanthum odoratum. A very small white flower at the veeery foreground is described as Bellis perennis. Do you know these species? You have to be aware that many of plant species you pass in your daily routine have healing properties. I will write about it to you soon. About it and many other nice things. I will tell you more about Silesia region I come from and live in and about ten thousand other more and less important things about me and my life. Enjoy reading:)