Grasshopper no 5, Winter '94
A national park should have been created in the Arłamów area long ago. It is a unique part of Poland undisturbed by human activities. It is also the only area in the Eastern Carpathians (the so called Border Flysch Carpathians) which is physio-graphically different from Bieszczady. It includes Poland's only fragment of Eastern Carpathian fir and beech forest (with scattered sycamore trees). Scientists and friends of the Przemyśl Plateau agree on the necessity of creating a park. But whether or not that will happen will depend on the attitude of both the national government and local administrations. If the government finds the necessary funds (10 billion zlotys to begin with), and the local authorities do not oppose the project, it is possible that the Turnica National Park will be established next year.
After the Second World War, the first scientist to describe the natural value of the virgin massifs of Suchy Obycz and Turnica, and to demand their protection, was Prof. Jerzy Piórecki. He raised the issue as early as the sixties. However, a proposal for creating a national park in this area was not submitted to the public until May, 1982, when Prof. Janusz Kotlarczyk presented it at the Second Conference of the League for the Preservation of Nature in Przemyśl. A name was proposed -- the National Park of the Middle Wiar Valley. In 1988 both Kotlarczyk and Piórecki developed and published their proposals for the park. Soon after, scientists from Warsaw and Przemyśl engaged in intensive studies of the natural values of the southern part of the Przemyśl Plateau. The collected material is the result of the work of Prof. Michalik of Kraków.
Further publications brought new proposals: the "National Park of the Border Carpathians", "Lędziany National Park" (referring to the name of a Polish tribe which settled in the area in the middle of the first millenium A.D.), and East Carpathians National Park. The most popular proposal was submitted by students from the Warsaw Main School of Farming, who developed their own proposal for the Turnica Park during a summer practice. The name comes from the piedmont massif of Turnica (563 m), situated in the centre of the area, and from the river of the same name which originates there.
The boundaries of the future park cover an area of 26 thousand hectares and run along the famous fence around the "Arłamów Country", a holiday and hunting resort for the communist elite during the Polish People's Republic.
The future Turnica National Park, in addition to its natural values, is also distinguished by its beautiful and unique scenery. The landscape includes high hills covered with virgin forests (Suchy Obycz, 616 m), carpets of meadows spread along streams, and rock profiles visible among the landslides on the Wiar, as well as valuable monuments of culture situated in the immediate surroundings of the park (Kalwaria Pacławska, the XV-century fortifed Uniate Church in Posada Rybotycka or the Renaissance castle near Krasiczyn ). All of this is highly advantageous to the development of tourism.
The richness of flora, fauna, and inanimate nature of the area has been largely determined by its position at the junction of three phytogeographic provinces: the mountainous - Central European, the Pontic and Ponnon, and the near Lowland and Highland - Central European. According to the geomorphological division, the Park is situated along the borderline of the East and West Carpathians, so the exceptional diversity of its animate and inanimate nature is quite understandable.
There is no doubt that the Arłamów Centre would be a natural and extremely attractive choice for the headquarters of the new National Park Management. However, Bircza was chosen by the promotors of the project. The main argument for this choice is the intended protection of both the Forest Inspectorate and its local workers, for whom the institution provides the best possibility of employment. The project entails a transformation of the Forest Inspectorate into the Park Management, thus not only allowing the preservation of all the existing jobs but even a 50% increase in the number of employed people. The Management will supervise the park, protect the 26 thousand hectares of its area, and, as before, run the forest economy on the other 10 thousand hectares of the present Forest Inspectorate. The assumption that the park forests will be left unattended is entirely a misunderstending. In the initial period there will be an extraordinary amount of work connected with the neccessity of "reconstructing" about 3 thousand artificial (planted after the war) pine-tree stands. Pine is not native to the area and must be removed and replaced by fir, beech, and some sycamore. Then sanitary cuttings will follow.
Another false impression is the idea that the Park's game will be left on its own to reproduce unduly, as was the case during the existence of the administration-military centre. The Park Management will also control that situation, conducting sanitary shootings and, if necessary, reducing the amount of game, especially of deers which cause the most damage.
To some it may appear paradoxical, but environmental protection in the form of a national park will bring about considerable economic development of the region -- such are the prognoses based on the experience of other regions with national parks. One great advantage here is the lack of population in the region. Also, both the forest areas (70 % of the Park) and the agricultural area (more than 3 thousand hectares) are owned by the Treasury. No other national park in Poland is in such a happy situation.
The agricultural areas, meadows mainly, were used by the Military Farms (the Nadwiślańska Military Unit -- Ministry of Internal Affairs). Last year the army fortunately decided that their only purpose was to defend the country and not to pasture sheep and cattle. The land was taken over by the Agricultural Agency of the Treasury, and it is possible that when the park is created, only those who wanted to buy a farm there will be disappointed. That will surely not concern the region as a whole. It will not lose.
The areas in the neighbourhood of the future park may count on an economic revival due to greater tourism and the sale of souvenirs. Bircza will probably be in the most advantageous position as the tourism and technical centre of the park. Of considerable importance will be the possibility of reopening the local airport for small and medium-sized planes. In this way a lot of new jobs can be created in Bircza.
Localities situated near the entrance roads to the park will also profit. Hotels, restaurants, and food stands will be built, as well as parking-lots, since the park will be accessible only by horse-drawn wagons, bicycles, or on foot. The local farms will benefit due to the growing demand for food, followed, undoubtedly, by a rise in the price of agricultural land. Already, more far-sighted people are buying plots on the Wiar and building summer houses.
Another advantage the park will bring will be the increased funds allocated to the construction of water purification plants. The first of these will be built in Bircza and Robotycze, then in all the localities in the Wiar river-basin, to make it once again the purest river in Poland. It should be hoped that the creation of the Turnica National Park will be welcomed by the neighbouring communal administrations such as those of Fredropole, Bircza, and Ustrzyki Dolne. Their opinion in this matter may be decisive.
The park boundary will stretch from the border near Kalwaria Pacławska through Leszczyny, past Makowa and Rybotycze and further on along the forest boundary, then along the left side of the Wiar River near Posada Rybotycka, through Lodzinka Dolna and Wola Korzeniecka near Bircza and on along the forest boundary to Leszczawa Dolna and Gorna, and finally through Trzcianiec, Wojtkowa, and Jureczkowa to the Ukrainian border.
According to the proposed boundaries (the minimum version), the park will adjoin the Chwaniów massif from the west and Kopystanka Mountain and Szybenica from the north. In the future (the maximum version) a part of the okulina/borderland (especially Chwaniów Hill) could be incorporated into the park. That idea is based on the necessity of protecting the whole Wiar river-basin.
The extensive documentation for the proposed park mentions 13 species of protected animals and 7 which are threatened with total extinction (registered in the "Polish Red Book"). Among the 113 species of birds, such rareties as Aquila chrysaetos and other birds of prey are found in the area. The local flora is very rich. The area is home to 74 species of xerothermic mountain plants, among which 64 are protected and 50 are totally protected. One revelation was 12 species of plants found nowhere else in Poland, including 2 species which are new to science.