PROTECTION OF FORESTS
Most of the Park’s forests (over 97% of their area) are actively protected, whereas only 283 hectares of the forests are submitted to strict protection.
Strictly protected areas include fragments of mature, stable ecosystems, an example being a marshy coniferous forest on "Suche Bagno". Covered with strict
protection are also fragments of a forest altered as a result of earlier land management. These are several small sections with different age
structure of the tree stands. Observations of speed and directions of natural alteration in this forest can be very significant for the science and
practice of protective activities.
In comparison with natural forests, a significant portion of the Park’s forests has different species composition, uniform age of the trees and low spatial
diversity. In these forests, active protection is realized. The work of foresters leads to facilitating and accelerating the return of natural
forests which have their species composition suitable for local soil conditions and are characterized by different age structure of the separate layers of
the forest stand.
Nowadays, one can imagine how the forests by Lake Wigry may look in the future. Taking into consideration factors such as soil quality testing,
water conditions, local atmospheric conditions, etc., specialists have determined an optimal tree stand composition and described potential arborescent
vegetation on the whole area of the Park. The results of their work constitute the basis for developing plans of protective actions, including these
related to the alteration of the tree stands. In place of removed trees, seedlings of those species which should occur in a given habitat are introduced.
Forests with simplified structure are more susceptible to insects’ attacks. Therefore, the main direction of active protection is maintaining the low
number of those species which can lead to destruction of forests covering a big area. The most dangerous insects are bark beetles infesting the outer bark
of spruce trees. Stopping their invasions is possible thanks to cutting out the trees occupied by bark beetles and preventing the next generations
of beetles from flying out.
In order to reduce and control the number of bark beetles, various types of traps are used. Such traps contain pheromones, i.e. substances alluring
beetles. What is more, the gaps of thinned sites are planted with young trees, mainly of those species which are absent in the surrounding tree stand.
Later, vegetation which chokes the new generation of trees is removed.
The young trees, including these planted by the Park’s service, are often nibbled by animals such as: deer, roe-deer and elks. So as to prevent losses,
forest plantations are fenced, while the young trees are smeared with repellants or protected with special plastic covers. However, not all the plantations
are fenced and not all the trees are protected because some of them should be available for forest herbivores.
Pines and spruces which are overturned or broken are removed from the forest for two reasons: to prevent proliferation of insects threatening the existence
of the forest stands and to provide conditions necessary for the growth of deciduous species. However, not all the ill or dead trees are removed. A part of
them remains in the forest, as they have an important role to play. They become a living environment for many species of fungi, plants and animals.
All the above mentioned measures do not solve problems with the protection of the Park’s trees. A necessary measure is also regulating the number of forest
herbivores such as roe deer or deer. Up till now, such "regulatory" function has been fulfilled by big predators, mainly wolves. Today, their population is
scarce, and in order to reconcile the needs of nature protection with these of herbivores protection, it is necessary to reduce the number of herbivores
through planned culling. Also, the number of wild boars is regulated if their occurrence is too frequent and they cause great losses in cultivated lands.