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Special issue

of "WIGRY"





Zdzisław Szkiruć




Wigry Lake. Phot. P. Malczewski




„Even if there were no precious ruins and valuable historical monuments in Wigry, all the same, the place itself, sanctified by such numerous historical memories and rich in such magnificent landscape, would be worth seeing not only by local inhabitants but also by foreign tourists. It is here, therefore, that the poet and the painter find rich contents for their beautiful pictures, and, perhaps, create a master piece evoking admiration and worship”.


Aleksander Polujanski: Wandering for scientific purpose in Augustowska Guberniya, Warszawa 1859



The reference to the quotation is necessary when we speak about the beauty of nature and landscape of the Wigry land. Its loveliness and riches must have made the rulers of Poland and Lithuania locate a hunting lodge on the Wigry Peninsula and establish numerous backwoods around, so that wild game had a place to hide. The same beauty must have enchanted Cameldolite monks, who built their hermitage here, which is mentioned only as a ruin in the book by Polujanski.


Despite settlers’ pressure, which was particularly strong in the 19th century, steps were undertaken to protect the surroundings of lake Wigry from man’s expansion. The removing of villages in the vicinity of the Slupianska Bay and the planting of trees instead was a spectacular example of protective activities on the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 1930s a reserve called Wigry was established here.


Penisula in Cimochowizna village. Phot. P. Malczewski

Natural values of these areas were first explored by Kazimierz Kulwiec and developed by dr Alfred Litynski. The Hydrobiological Station came into being at Wigry lake. However, World War II and its consequences led to a set-back of efforts for the benefit of protection of lake Wigry and its surroundings. Over 30 years of waiting was needed to be able to hold a conference titled Wigry lake a cradle of Polish hydrobiology under supervision of professor Bazyli Czeczuga, Ph.D. in 1975. It was reminded at the conference how unusual values lake Wigry has, and the need to protect its surroundings was voiced. This time the scientists’ appeals were heard out and in 1976 the Wigry Lanscape Park and the Suwalski Landscape Park were established. They were the first landscape parks in Poland.


The establishment itself would have been meaningless without the enthusiasm of people who were eager to help protect the Park’s natural values. The Wigry Landscape Park existed until 1989, and throughout the period of its existence works were conducted to prepare the establishment of a national park. The Nature Conservation Officer for Suwalskie Province was a motive power of these works, and professor Aleksander Sokolowski, Ph.D. a great expert on nature, was their main performer. A team under engineer Stanislaw Lubicz-Lubinski, M.Sc., who prepared Plan for spatial management of the Wigry Landscape Park in 1980, created great foundations for spatial management planning. The Plan won minister’s award for a relevant combination of local development, natural values and tourist use. Works on the establishment of the Wigry National Park, whose area is bigger than the area of the landscape park, were conducted at the provincial office in Suwalki and supported by kind cooperation on the part of the Regional Management of State Forests in Bialystok and people at the Provincial Committee for Nature Conservation. The State Forests made an attempt to carry out national park tasks in a specific unit called the Wigry Park Forest Inspectorate, which was created on 01 July, 1986 and comprised the area of 4440.94 hectares, in this, 19 lakes of total area of 2716.57 hectares. These activities were soon recognized as works giving grounds for the establishment of a national park. In 1987, after numerous consultations and meetings at provincial level, the head of Suwalki Province (Voivodship), Mr Kazimierz Jablonski, submitted to the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Economy a final version of the motion for the establishment of the Wigry National Park. The Park started its functioning on 01 January 1989.


Czarna Hancza river. Phot. P. Malczewski

The traditions of protection of this area are several dozens years old. I, personally, have been engaged in that for the last 30 years. I cannot help a personal reflection here, because I am anxious about the next years of the Park’s functioning. The source of the anxiety is the growing urbanization pressure on open, unique landscapes of ground moraine and sandr, which have been preserved in the areas farmed within the Park. This pressure is a manifestation of a desire of individuals to take possession of these unique natural resources, the resources which are so valuable nowadays because they have been successfully protected from man’s destructive activities for many years. I only hope that people’s wisdom will allow these exceptional values of the land to be preserved for future generations. The only way to achieve this goal is to accept limitations which would stop carefree taking possession of nature, today, now, immediately.


The 15-year existence of the WNP falls in the year in which Poland became a member of the European Union. The membership will make it easier for local people to obtain assistance in solving difficult problems of balanced development, it may encourage people to create their local, high quality tourist product, consisting of unique natural resources and cultural values of Wigry lake surroundings. It is worth quoting here the words of Andrzej Strumillo, an inhabitant of this land: “We owe thanks to the nature of this region (…) for moraine hills over river and lake valleys, for juicy green of the forests, moss and grass, for hospitality of the sky and people”.

The materials which are included in this book sum up only a small part of the 15-year activities of the WNP, indicate our direction in activities for the benefit of protection of the most valuable resources of international signifi-cance, and describe attempt to create an exemplary area in which balanced development is being carried out.






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