The oldest National Park in Poland is located right next to he border
with Belarus, and together with the Belovezhskaya Pushcha National Park
in Belarus they protect more than 20,000 hectares of virgin forests. The
polish part itself used to be 5316 hectares , but in 1996 was nearly doubled
to 10502 hectares. This is one of the oldest National Parks in Europe,
founded as Reserve Forestry in 1921.
As they were the property of the polish kings, the forests surviveved
unaltered, being used for hunting . "Located on the watershed of
the Baltic and Black seas, this immense forest range consisting of evergreens
and broad-leaved trees is the home of some remarkable animal life including
rare and interesting mammals." The climte has both subboreal and
continental characteristics. The main feature of the Park is its forest.
The Park protects the last and one of the largest surviving areas of European
primeval lowland mixed forest (pine, beech, oak, alder and spruce), which
dates back to 8,000 BC. This might be the only remaining of the original
forests, which once covered much of Europe. "One third of the Bialowieza
is located in Poland with the remainder in Belarus, and the border area
is marred by plowed strips and barbed-wire fencing."
"The Park's animal life totals 11,000 species including 62 species
of mammals and 200 species of birds. These wilderness areas are inhabited
by some 300 European bison (a species which has been reintroduced into
the park in 1929), elk (North American - moose), stag, roe deer, wild
boar, lynx, wolf, fox, marten, badger, otter, ermine, beaver and numerous
bats. It is also a show place reserve for tarpan (the Polish wild forest
horse). Bird species include the black stork (Cioconia nigra), Pomeranian
eagle (Aquila pomarina), tawny owl (Strix aluco), crane and raven. "