The Bialoweiza Forest in Poland is a reservation forest located 145 miles east of Warsaw. And is bordered by the country of Belarus. This national park forest is a sanctuary for European bison and is also a primary forest habitat. It’s a mixture of forest loss and coniferous forests.
This forest became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. And also part of the part forest in Belarus has become a Biosphere Reserve under the UNESCO Program in 1993. Whereas the forest part in Poland was first approved in 1976.
1. History and protection
For 500 years the Bialoweiza Forest in Poland was a favorite hunting ground. Especially for the Russian kings and tsarist Russia. Which made it a place that was forbidden to be exploited. This protection made the Bialowieza region a remnant of European forests. It’s remained beautiful until the 20th century. But during World War I, the protection status ended. Between 1915 and 1918 the forest was occupied by German troops. Who cut down 5 million cubic meters of wood for war purposes and destroyed large parts of their wildlife.
Most of the damage occurred in the first 3 months. When many large species were hunted for army consumption. At the beginning of the war, there were 700 elk deer in Bialowieza. And at the end of the war, only 3 elk deer. Wild boar which originally numbered 2300 tails and red deer that had many left only 6 tails. Bison which is the largest animal here decreased from 727 to 120 in the same year. And this decline continues as the war goes on.
The total area of the Bialowieza Forest reaches 260 square miles, consisting of 220 square miles in Poland and 260 square miles in Belarus. This forest is close to several rivers, namely Lesna in the south, Narew River in the north. And the Narewka tributaries which flow 40 miles through the heart of the forest.
The Bialowieza Forest has high-value trees, especially in the area between the Narewka and Hwozna rivers known as tightly guarded reservation areas and no one can enter without special permission.
3. Flora Inside The Bialowieza Forest
The Bialowieza Forest has many closely protected habitats such as mossy soils, swamps, grasslands, rivers, and large forest trees. There are 900 types of fungi, including Pholiota aurivella, Fomitosis Pinicola, Hieracium coralloides, and Armillaria mellea. These fungi grow close to deadwood on the forest floor.
In river valleys and lowlands, researchers categorize soil types vary from muddy swamps, peat swamps, and peat. Between rivers in the east and reservation areas consist of clay sand. In the southwest, the type of soil is sand on clay.
Leafy tree plants grow on wet and fertile soil, plants that are always green grow on dry and sandy soil. In sum, there are a total of 26 species of trees, the majority of which are hornbeam trees which dominate 35 percent of primary forest, mixed with 10 percent oak tree composition. Other tree species are pine, spruce, and ash. As many as 37% of trees are more than 100 years old.
4. European Bison
European bison is one of the inhabitants of the Bialoweiza Forest in Poland and is still related to bison in mainland North America, but European bison is a forest animal. At first, bison was widespread throughout Europe from Siberia to Sweden. But because of forest destruction, the population is getting east.
In 1914, the overall population of bison in Europe became two habitats. In the Bialowieza Forest where lowland forest species live and the Caucasus where there are mountain forest bison species.
Those are some interesting things that humans must understand the Bialowieza Forest in Poland. As a forest area, of course, the government maintains its ecosystem. So that visitor wisdom is very necessary.