GB No. 3, winter 1990/91


In 1959 the then Forest Minister, Jan Dęb-Kozioł, said: "I'm not able to determine the value that The Pieniny National Park has for science right now. I think that the prospective value cannot be determined even by the most outstanding scientist. But I'm sure, that if any thing is damaged here, even unintentionally, history will judge us just like those who burned the library in Alexandria, believing that the Koran was enough for mankind".

And in 1964 the decision to build the dam close to Niedzica castle was made.

Probably there has never been a more discussed investment in Polish history. The idea of such a construction in Czorsztyn was conceived as far back as 1914. Fortunately, at that time the project was not achieved. After the war the communists continued with the idea of dam - construction on this site. The residents were absolutely against the project. Also, the scientific authorities (e.g. professor Szafer or professor Birkenmajer) protested. But the decision was made. The construction has dragged on years; and it seems that the people have resigned themselves to their fate. I hope that the action I'm describing and this article will re - awaken discussion about this problem.


A quarter of a century has passed since that fatal decision in 1964. A lot of other, larger (but as needless as this one) investments have been started and finished during this time. But there's no end to this construction.

The rest of 1960 was spent analyzing the geotectonical conditions for the dam. The localization close to Czorsztyn was advised by many specialists. The basement is changing there each tens meters. Small earth - tremors are recorded constantly. The Polish Academy of Sciences report allowed such localization, but under the stipulation that normal investors would more this building to another site. The plans for the dam have changed from a heavy concrete dam too one made of earth, as a result of those stipulations.

In the beginning of 1970 some preliminary operations were undertaken - roads (for instance the road to Sromowce Wyżne), bridges, the highvoltage line etc. This line has crossed the biological organism of Pieniny Nat. Park. It's really very strange because until today not one milliwatt of energy has flowed through this line.

In the middle of 1970 other works directly connected with the dam - construction were begun. They were very difficult. The planned level of water was lowered again and again (because of the geological conditions). Money was lacking, as other investments took precedent. The Greens as well as area residents who did not agree to this project, protested.

This is the reason that the dam's completion (planned for 1981) is still far away.

It seems that the sense of this project was drowned in flowing now in concrete bad, Dunajec - River. The profits (if there are any) are very uncertain. Not later than 20 years after the dam's completion, the water - reservoir in Czorsztyn would be slimmed by silt and would lose its original role (anti - flood buffer). If the water purification plants in Zakopane, Nowy Targ, and other towns had not been built, it would bee the biggest cesspool in Europe. Only 97 MW of power would be produced in the planned power plant. So little, that the sinking of milliards of zlotys in the project seems like economic sabotage. So, how shall we answer the title - question? I think it is a type of "political construction". The communists wanted to build here the next sign of their power. "We'll build this dam in spite of all. Against ecologists, geologists, native population, and above all, against common sense. Because this is our will!". That's perhaps the way they thought. Now things are not how they used to be. The communists are not the main ecological problem in Poland, yet. The building of the dam goes on very slowly and milliards zlotys are still sinking in the Dunajec River. Mr Prime Minister, why are you still waiting?


First: we lose thousands of milliards of zlotys. I don't count dollars).

Second: we lose priceless monuments of Polish culture - the castles in Niedzica and Czorsztyn will be destroyed. Both are representative of this area's Polish identity. Dozens important chapels and other buildings are already damaged, awaiting uncertain renovation. If we don't find money for this renovation we will lose them for ever.

Third: we lose Pieniny Mountains. For those, who do not realize its value for Poland, I'll try to picture it. Because of its particular climate, milder than in other parts of the Carpathians, a lot of plant and animal species have found their home there. Wandering through the, Pieniny Mountains can admire the fascinating landscape as well the almost baroque intensity of flora. There is not, perhaps, another such place in Poland (and only a few in the whole Europe) with so many plant species (including 2 species and 4 varieties of endemic flora). We should also remember, that the Pieniny Mountains are abundant in bat and butterfly life. But this wonderful life - filled oasis is now damaged. And the deepest wounds have not yet been inflicted.

The Pieniny National Park (in spite of protests) was crossed by a road and a power line.

Explosives were used for works in the National Park. Tens of hectares of forest have been felled. This work is senseless (because if that area - God forbid! - have been swamped in several years, new trees and brushwood would have been). Such methods (dynamite and motor-saw in National Parks) are thinkable only in a totalitarian state.

Those wounds are very deep but still not mortal. Nature would able to recuperate from them in 60 years. And with human help even faster. The dam in Czorsztyn would cause through its lake, climatic changes - that means death. This is the essential effect of the dam, although we may talk more about the scale of it. Basically, the lake would work as a large thermal buffer, heating in the winter and cooking in the summer. The climate would become colder and humidity would rise. Also the wind rose would change. All this would happen in the 5 km zone around the lake, within 4 - 5 years. Some species would simply die. Those which resist would be forced out by other ones, not found Pieniny Mountains now. So in ten or so years the mountains would have a greatly decreased vegetal attire and animal population (for instance, the bats would surely die, because they're very sensitive to such changes).

We can hardly convert ecological losses into dollars. Does it make any sense to devastate something so beautiful only for money?

GB No. 3, winter 1990/91 | Contents