GB No. 11, spring 1993
THE WIGRY LAKE COMPLEX
The Wigry lakes, a relict of the last glacial period in Europe, a
diamond on the green book of floral maps, have from times immemorial served Man. He could
find here everything he needed for life and development: food, things to wear, a safe
place to stay, raw materials necessary for making tools and constructions.
The history, including economic history, of the area, is very rich. The
natural resources of the land were, for most of the time, wastefully exploited as opposed
to economically rationed. Yet the values of the huge Wigry Lake Complex are great and its
natural resources renewable. It is one of the last such places in Europe and in the world.
No wonder, it has for many years been the subject of conservationists' activities aiming
at protecting it from devastation and unforeseen exploitation by consumers and
After many years of efforts aimed at preserving and protecting the
Complex it was pronounced the first Countryside Protection Park in Poland (1976) and a
National Park (1989). It would seem that preservation of its unique qualitative and
quantitative features is now guaranteed, at least for the time being. However, closer
scrutiny and analysis renders the guarantees doubtful.
The most valuable elements of the Wigry Complex natural habitat are
still recklessly exploited, wasted, degraded, and exposed to more risk.
- Unpurified waste water of the town of Suwalki still poisons the
Czarna Hańcza river and the Wigry lake.
- The unique stock of fish are damaged by commercial fishing and
holiday makers' angling.
- Water reservoirs banks and forests are damaged by mass tourism.
- The aesthetic values of the landscape are diminished by unsuitable
- The fragile soils are subject to severe erosion and wasted by
- Privately owned forests are harvested.
- International road transit "cuts through" the most
valuable forest areas.
The unfavorable symptoms concern also the social-economic sphere:
- Neither local people nor visitors seem aware enough, experienced,
nor capable of dealing with the international, multi-generation value of the Wigry Complex
and its elements.
- Actions taken are characteristic of particular interests of persons,
family households, institutions, and organizations.
- Legal standards, economy systems, institutionalized implementation
and control programmes are incoherent and often contradictory.
- The people are burdened by large-scale unemployment.
- Social and technical infrastructure of the area is lacking, and many
of its effective and profit-making elements are wasted.
- Consumption, exchange, division, manufacturing and money circulation
processes are strikingly going wrong.
- Most economic entities wrongly divide, invest and consume their
- Reasonable, up-to-date, socially accepted and effective ideas,
concepts, programmes, plans, projects or patterns of consumption, exchange, division and
production are missing.
- Old-styled Nature and Environment Protection adds obstacles to the
development of local economies by stimulating social and economic conflict, curbing
business initiatives, diminishing individual and state budget (tax) profits and inflating
- The whole socio-natural complex does not exploit to the full its
unique chances of development.
ASSUMING NEW SOLUTIONS
The basic assumptions for the right solutions to the problem are:
- "Ecologization" of economy,
- "Economization" of nature and environmental protection,
- Imposing upon the whole catchment of the Czarna Hańcza River
including the Wigry Lake Complex and the town of Suwałki the status of experimental
implementation of a local pattern of socio-economic system related to the subject of
ecologically sustainable development,
- Verification of the latest achievements of sustainable development
theory and practice in the area,
- Intensive, modern investment in the socio-economic zone of the
Czarna Hańcza catchment and close surroundings, and
- Intensive integration into one subject responsible for the spheres
of politics, economics, technics, organization, research, and education - private, social
RESULTS ACHIEVED SO FAR
Resulting from the author's earlier findings and the recommendations of
the Natural Resources Economy Department in Białystok chaired by himself (Warsaw
University) the following has been achieved so far:
- The research programme: Socio-economic conditioning of
eco-development as illustrated by the example of the Wigry National Park.
- The results of research and recommendations were being presented at
numerous conferences, including ten international ones.
- The participation of our Department research workers in the Second
Conference of International Society for Ecological Economics proved most fruitful as we
won over to our cause Professor Rafał Serafin of Heritage Resource Centre, University
- An international student research camp aiming at preliminary
assessment of the economy was held in the Wigry National Park (Aug. 24 through Sept. 14,
1992) with the support of the Voivodeship of Suwałki, the Ministry of Education, the
Ministry of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry, the management from
the Wigry National Park, and the LEKTOR Corporation of Białystok.
- In November 1992 the author of this paper and Mr. Maciej Kamiński,
Director of the Wigry National Park participated, with Prof. Serafin's help, in Heritage
Resource Centre seminar in Norwich, England being thus able to exchange views with the
world's top specialists and broaden their international collaboration.
- The results of the pilot research were presented at a Student
Seminar organized in December 1992 with the support of the Voivodeship of Suwałki and the
LEKTOR Corporation. Representatives of the EPNR&F Ministry ,the Voivodeship, local
communal authorities, as well as scientists, businessmen and non-government organizations
participated in the seminar.
- The Community Council of Users was created by the management of the
Wigry National Park in January 1993.
- The Wigry Foundation was established in April 1993.
- Intensive information/propaganda measures were taken since the
beginning of the project.
FURTHER STEPS TO BE TAKEN:
- Further intensive research and verification of its results in
- Aggressive search for partnership among theoreticians and
- Widespread programme of education (multi- level, multi-subject,
multi-directional, using diverse methods and means).
On the grounds of what has been achieved so far, we declare moderate
optimism for the near future.
Prof. Dr. Mestwin St. Kostka
GB No. 11, spring 1993 | Contents