GB No. 11, spring 1993



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 manufacturers.

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.

  1. Unpurified waste water of the town of Suwalki still poisons the Czarna Hańcza river and the Wigry lake.
  2. The unique stock of fish are damaged by commercial fishing and holiday makers' angling.
  3. Water reservoirs banks and forests are damaged by mass tourism.
  4. The aesthetic values of the landscape are diminished by unsuitable construction.
  5. The fragile soils are subject to severe erosion and wasted by farming.
  6. Privately owned forests are harvested.
  7. International road transit "cuts through" the most valuable forest areas.

The unfavorable symptoms concern also the social-economic sphere:

  1. 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.
  2. Actions taken are characteristic of particular interests of persons, family households, institutions, and organizations.
  3. Legal standards, economy systems, institutionalized implementation and control programmes are incoherent and often contradictory.
  4. The people are burdened by large-scale unemployment.
  5. Social and technical infrastructure of the area is lacking, and many of its effective and profit-making elements are wasted.
  6. Consumption, exchange, division, manufacturing and money circulation processes are strikingly going wrong.
  7. Most economic entities wrongly divide, invest and consume their income.
  8. Reasonable, up-to-date, socially accepted and effective ideas, concepts, programmes, plans, projects or patterns of consumption, exchange, division and production are missing.
  9. 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 budgetary expenditure.
  10. The whole socio-natural complex does not exploit to the full its unique chances of development.


The basic assumptions for the right solutions to the problem are:

  1. "Ecologization" of economy,
  2. "Economization" of nature and environmental protection,
  3. 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,
  4. Verification of the latest achievements of sustainable development theory and practice in the area,
  5. Intensive, modern investment in the socio-economic zone of the Czarna Hańcza catchment and close surroundings, and
  6. Intensive integration into one subject responsible for the spheres of politics, economics, technics, organization, research, and education - private, social and other.


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:

  1. The research programme: Socio-economic conditioning of eco-development as illustrated by the example of the Wigry National Park.
  2. The results of research and recommendations were being presented at numerous conferences, including ten international ones.
  3. 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 Waterloo, Canada.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Community Council of Users was created by the management of the Wigry National Park in January 1993.
  8. The Wigry Foundation was established in April 1993.
  9. Intensive information/propaganda measures were taken since the beginning of the project.


  1. Further intensive research and verification of its results in practice.
  2. Aggressive search for partnership among theoreticians and practitioners.
  3. 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
Warsaw University
Sosonowa 62
15-887 Bialystok

GB No. 11, spring 1993 | Contents