Biebrza National Park
The swamps in the proglacial stream valley of the Biebrza are the most valuable peat-swamp regions in Europe, included in the RAMSAR convention and prepared for putting on the world list of UNESCO as a Reserve of the Biosphere. In the area of swamps, called the Jacwieskie Swamps, the Biebrza Landscape Park was established in 1989, and in 1993 the Biebrza National Park with the area of 59 223 ha (the biggest in Poland).
The Park is situated in the Polnocnopodlaskie Lowland in the Biebrza Valley, which appeared in the period of Central Poland and Baltic glaciation constituting the proglacial stream valley and the valley of the Biebrza. After the glacier’s withdrawal there appeared moraine and outwash formations and an intensive peat process started. The main hydrographic axis is composed of the Biebrza with its bigger tributaries and the Augustowski Channel, connecting the Biebrza with the Niemen.
The vegetation – apart from peat-swamp plants there are marshy meadow forests, alder swamps and forests growing on dry ground. The characteristic feature of the Biebrza swamps are transwerse and longitudinal ecological zones of the peat-bog Biebrza valley.
The flora is dominated by rare glacial relicts of northern origin, here belong around 17 species of vascular plants e.g. the rye-grass sedge Carex loliacea, the marsh saxifrage Saxifraga hirculus, as well as 8 mosses, e.g. three-leaved cold moss Meesea triquetra and the drooping-leaved thread-moss Palludella squarrosa.
The fauna is unusually rich. There are here all big Polish mammals with the elk, which has its refuge in the strict preserve called “Red Swamp” (Czerwone Bagno). The precious ornithofauna comprises around 253 species, with 157 breeding species, e.g. the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, the short-toed eagle Circaetus gallicus and the aquatic warbler Acrocephalus paludicola, all of which are rare.