Grasshopper no 6, Spring '95
It is well known that cross-border cooperative projects and planning initiatives, including projects on protected areas on both sides of the Polish border, have been worked out in Poland for some years. These projects are piloted by the Central Planning Office and are known in common parlance as "The Eastern Wall" (Ukraine, Belorussia, and Lithuania), "The Western Wall" (Germany), "The Southern Wall" (Czech Republic and Slovakia), and "The Northern Wall" (the Baltic Countries). The Polish Ecological Club's National Parks Section has expressed its views on Polish-Slovakian cross-border cooperation in nature and landscape protection. Here is their report, which has been handed to the Kraków Section of the Central Planning Office.
The view of the National Parks Section of the Polish Ecological Club Main Board on plans for Polish-Slovakian cross-border cooperation
The Polish-Slovakian border runs from Ziemia Cieszyńska to Bieszczady. The aim of both societies is independence, but good mutual relations are taken into account. Polish and Slovakian tendencies toward independence should join common national interests, which would find expression in solving all problems, from global and international ones to those involving direct cooperation in the border zone. Since 1918 there has been in Poland a lot of double-dealing and other acts characteristic of communists, who tried to ignore Slovakia and the Slovakians, who have always been close to the Polish people. Other aims of this propaganda are obviously connected with foreign interests, which, unfortunately, have been implanted in the present government. The situation is similar in the Republic of Slovakia. To break this series of harmful activities is a pressing task, and it can be done by starting close cooperation in the border zone.
1. A national park should be created in the area of the Racza Peaks, on both sides of the border. The area has been developed as a place for tourism, relaxation, and skiing. Especially on the Polish side, the area should be strictly protected against the illegal building of residential quarters, which disturb the spacial order in almost all valleys in the region. Some regulations regarding building inspection should be introduced in order to prevent the local landscape from being destroyed. We would like to call your attention to the fact that there are hardly any illegal country houses on the other side of the border. It is essential to start as many border crossings as possible, at least until the new law on unrestricted border crossing is passed, and to organize a dense system of railways connecting Żywiec and Jabłonków.
2. The Żywiecki Landscape Park and the Pilsko Range should be brought together into a complementary whole with a similar protective system on the Slovakian side. The whole area should be managed properly for tourists and skiers. The entire area is expected to provide a touristic background for the Silesian urban agglomeration, Kraków, Żylina and Jabłonków. The peak of Pilsko in particular should be protected, starting with the closing down of the ski-lifts which have been built there illegally.
3. The idea of building an efficient traffic artery through the Glisne Pass should be considered. The artery would connect Silesia with the Tatras and make Beskid Żywiecki and Górna Orawa more accessible to people living on both sides of the border. This suggestion would provide a solid reason for stopping transit traffic through the Krowiarki Pass in Babiogórski National Park.
4. Babiogórski National Park should definitely be extended, at least by incorporating the Polica range and the Mędralowa Range, and a Slovakian equivalent of Babiogórski National Park should be created in the area of Polhora. It is important to consider establishing an international ethnographic landscape park in order to preserve the rapidly disappearing uniqueness of Orawa.
5. The entire Tatra Mountain range should be regarded as an integral geographical complex and classified as both an International Biosphere Reserve and a pair of national parks on both sides of the border. It is important to solve the problems of the Tatras properly, and the TANAPU model can be accepted as suitable here. Private property in national parks should be maintained but executed within the limits of strict nature protection in national parks.
The regulations for national parks according to the New Delhi Convention (1967), which was accepted by Poland, forbid the organization of sport events and the practicing of record-seeking sports in national parks. Therefore, it is prohibited to organize any Olympic games, athletic meetings, or other competitions in the Tatras. All Podtatrze, especially Podhale, is threatened by urbanization resulting from a local uncontrolled population explosion. This threat should be stopped by introducing more anti-devastation laws on both sides of the border. It is essential to prepare a thorough demographic study on Podtatrze (especially the Polish part), as it is probably the only region in Poland where rural depopulation has not been observed. In fact, a population increase can be seen there. The study should be a first step towards preparing an economic model of stimuli for deurbanization of this region. It should be a ground for working out another economic model of incentives for deglomeration (deurbanization) of Podtatrze. It is essential to treat Podtatrze as a protection buffer zone for the four national parks Tarzański, Babiogórski, Gorczański and Pieniński. The situation is similar in the Slovakian national parks of Niżne Tatry and Słowacki Raj. Therefore there is a strong need to create a well thought-out protection system, which will be carried out through preserving landscape parks ("chranene uzemie" in Slovakian) and protected landscape areas, including other parks, e.g. ethnographic ones, which preserve the cultural heritage.
6. The Pieniński National Park, which belongs to both countries, should be enlarged to include the Małe Pieniny and the Spiskie Pieniny. The suggestion is to incorporate not only the area from the Dunajec Gorge to Obidza, which is a part of the Małe Pieniny, but also the main ridge from Niedzica to Dursztyński Potok with all its spurs (excluding rural croplands). An appropriate area around the Pieniński National Park should be prearranged in order to provide a tract of land for the protection zone. This is particularly important because the region is abundant in cultural values.
7. In the area of Magura Spiska, a landscape park with adjoining cultural parks around Kacwin on the Polish side and Osturnia on the Slovakian side should be created. The parks will be a well-organized part of the protection zone for the Tatrzański and Pieniński National Parks.
8. The Popradzki Landscape Park should be enlarged by incorporating the Beskid Sądecki West Ridge from Dzwonkówka to Obidza and the Beskid Sądecki East Ridge from Makowica to Jaworzyna Krynicka. The catchment basin of Grajcarek (Biała Woda and Czarna Woda) should be specially protected.
9. To create a firm system of protection zones around the Polish-Slovakian border, the tract of land from Leluchów to Wysowa should be included. This area should be protected as a landscape park with two cultural parks around Krynica on the Polish side and Bardiów on the Slovakian side.
10. It is not proper that the Magurski National Park will border Slovakia with no equivalent on the other side, so an appropriate protected area should be created in the area of Ondawa.
11. All the East Carpathians which lie along the Polish border are being proposed to become a protected area by the Global Three-Sided Biosphere Reserve and the Bieszczadzki National Park. The Polish-Ukrainian-Slovakian cooperation should be tightened in the area of both creating and executing regulations for protecting this area. Appropriate activities should be coordinated with the Carpathian Euroregion Project which is being created in the same area, so that nature conservation cannot be dominated by short-range economic aims.
J. Sawicki, Z. Machalica
translated by Jacek Iwański
reprinted from the newsletter of the National Parks Section of the Polish Ecological Club Main Board no 1/94