The Bialowieza Wilderness
The Bialowieza wilderness is a unique forest complex at a European scale, because it is the last lowland forest at this continent. It is located at the border between Poland and Belarus and occupies anout 1250 square kilometers. Its polish part takes 580 square kilometers.
There are unchanged ecosystems, not interfered by man, and the richness of the fauna and flora is
the crown jewel of polish nature. That’s why it is the location of 20 nature reserves. The most precious place in this area is the Bialowieza National Park. The heart of the wilderness is a fragment of a 500-year old forest, located at the border of Belarus. The Strict Reserve of the Bialowieza National Park was created here.
There are still many species of animals and plants growing here, which you cannot find in other forests anymore. There are 178 bird species confirmed to be nesting in the Bialowieza Wilderness, including 107 species typical for the forestlands. The presence of many of them proves the unchanged state of the wilderness’ habitat. There are over 20 species of predatury birds and owls (including the short-toed eagle, the lesser spotted eagle, the hairy eagle, the pygmy owl and the boreal), a huge number of hollow birds (including the three-toed woodpecker, the white-backed woodpecker, the white-necked flycatcher, the small flycatcher), hazels, cranes and black storks. Even if only because of the rich bird fauna, this forest massif is already cionsidered a global forst refuge.
The Bialowieza wilderness is also the only place in Europe, where the entire group of ungulates (including the European Bison and the moose) has survived, as well as the rich group of predatory mammals (including the wolf and the lynx). The diversity of other animal and plant groups is equally large. So far, over 10 000 species of invertebrates were confirmed here (mostly insects).
In the Bialowieza wilderness, many trees can reach impressive sizes (spruces – 55 meters, pines, ash and limes 42-45 meters) and thickness (oaks – 720 centimeters, limes – 600 centimeters)
The dominant species in the tree stand are: common spruce, common pine, black alder, pedunculate oak, silver birch, downy birch. The more rare trees include the haughty ash, the small leaved lime, the common maple, the aspen poplar and wiazy. The main characteristic of the wilderness’ tree stand is their diverse age structure. Their average age is estimated between 80 and 130 years. Some of the oldest oaks can even remember the times of Władysław Jagiełło. So, the flora of the wilderness impresses both with its species diversity and primitive state. It is also confirmed that there are over 26 species of trees, 56 kinds of bushes and 14 shrubs, as well as about 1000 other types of plants and 3000 types of mushrooms.