Bieszczady National Park
Bieszczady National Park was made in 1973 on the area of 5587 ha, until 1996 it was enlarged to 27834 hectares. In 1992 UNESCO recognized the international Polish-Slovakian-Ukrainian reserve of the biosphere called “The Eastern Carpathians”, with the area of 164190 ha. The Polish part of the reserve contains Bieszczadzki National Park and two Landscape Parks: “Cisniansko-Wetlinski” and “The Sun Valley”. 18425 ha are strictly protected, including forests – 91% and mountain pastures – 9%.
The Park protects the fragments of east-Carpathian nature of the Western Bieszczady comprising their highest parts, with the main peak Tarnica (1346 meters). In the Bieszczady, unlike in other parts of the Carpathians, the upper border of the forest (1150-1200 meters) is formed by distorted dwarf beeches of the lower prealps and mountain sycamore forest with a rare protected fern – the hart’s tongue. The mountain pastures are covered by specific east Carpathian bush communities, e.g. a group of the European green alder Alnus viridis, bushes of the bilberry, herb and bush thickets, as well as mosses and lichens.
Around 700 species of vascular plants have been distinguished, including 174 mountain species (alpine and subalpine) and 22 east Carpathian species. Here is the place where the following species have the only locality of their occurance: the white false hellebore Veratrum album, the aconite Aconitum tauricum ssp. Nanum and the Carpathian spurge Euphorbia carpatica. There are 42 legally protected species of flora in the Park.
The fauna comprises over 200 species of the vertebrates, including around 40 species of mammals, e.g. the bear Ursus arctos, the wildcat Felis silvestris and the lynx Felis lynx. Among around 150 species of birds one can find: the golden eagle Aquila chrysaetos, the short-toed eagle Circateus gallicus, the Ural owl Strix uralensis, the black vulture Aegypius monachus and the booted eagle Hieraetus pennatus. Reptiles are represented by 7 species, including the Aesculapian snake Elaphe longissima which is strictly protected and appearing only in this region.