Drawieński Park Narodowy
The area of Drawa National Park and its neighbourhood lies in the a plain called Równina Drawska, which is a fragment of the lake district Pojezierze Południowopomorskie, in the north-western part of Poland. It encompasses for the central part of a forest complex called Drawa Wilderness (Puszcza Drawska).
The DNP represents a landscape of early-glacial outwash plains. It lies entirely within the reception basin of Drawa River, which – along with its tributary Płociczna – constitute for its main hydrographic axis. Both these rivers run through a wide lane of outwashes that originated from the sands left by a melting glacier’s waters running down to the Toruń-Eberswald postglacial stream valley.
All activities performed within the DNP borders have to conform to the rules of nature preservation.
The main function of the DNP is to observe the natural biotope and evaluate the current state of natural processes, surface and subterranean waters, climate, and other aspects of the inanimate nature. Based on those observations, we can forecast the direction and pace of ecosystem changes, and the reaction of live organisms to those changes.
The Park area is directly related to the Drawa reception basin of 567km². The rapid currents of these rivers have sculpted many attractive canyons and ravines wedged into the outwash plain, some close to 30 metres deep and overgrown with diverse standing timber. In those valleys take place the most crucial land-shaping processes: the river current is causing, on one side, spot erosion of the valley slopes, and on the other – accumulation of river residues on the dry ground forests on the drainage terraces.
The Drawa Wilderness, presently a dense forest complex, only 100 years ago used to be a mosaic of woods, pastures, and fields. Its present-day landscape has been shaped mainly by the traditional local economy, especially the forestry, of which some elements are now the relics of past human activities.
A significant element in the cultural landscape of the Park is the remains of old human settlements, and cemeteries.
Presently, the DNP stands out for its diversity of ecosystems. There are 224 documented plant communities. The surface is dominated by forests (80% of the total park area), mainly beech woods, alder-lined meadows and swamps, and patches of pine forests. Another characteristic element is peatbogs, along with water and meadow ecosystems.
The lakes within the DNP are largely diversified by their trophicity, area, and depth. Some of them stand out with their characteristic fauna and flora.
The Park’s fauna is represented by over 200 species of vertebrates, among which the most numerous are birds. There also is an abundance of invertebrates, among which one finds some uniquely valuable endangered species.
The crest animal of the DNP is the otter.
Hydrogenic geosystems are a meaningful link in the natural community of the DNP. The main rivers of the Drawa National Park are Drawa and its left-bank tributary Płociczna. On average, 15 m³ of water runs through Drawa every second, and 3 m³ through Płociczna. In addition to Drawa and Płociczna, the following rivers also run through the DNP area: Słopica, Korytnica, Runica, Cieszynka, Moczel, and Sucha.
There are 20 lakes in the Park. Their ecological characters are significantly varied: from the peat-based distrophic lakes such as Pięć Jeziorek Torfowych also known as (the “hungry lakes”) through eutrophic ones, such as Sitno, Płociczno, and Ostrowiec, to mesotrophic lakes Martew, Płociowe, and Pecnik Duży. One hydrologic rarity is Czarne – a meromictic lake surrounded by woods. The ecological differentiation of the lakes is visible to a naked eye, as the lakes differ even in their colour. The mesotrophic muskgrass lakes are, especially in the sunny days, have the colour of an intense emerald, and the distrophic ones are dark, almost black. Some of the unique elements of the Drawa Natioinal Park water system are outflows of underground water: brooks, leakages, and exudations, as well as the well-head peatbogs formed by those outflows.
The Drawa National Park stands out for the abundance of different ecosystems. There are 224 documented plant communities. The surface area is dominated by forests (80% of the total park area), mainly beech woods, alder-lined meadows and swamps, and patches of pine woods. Another characteristic element is peatbogs, along with water and meadow ecosystems. Nearly 80 plant communities present in the DNP have been classified in the European Habitat Directory. Among them are the fertile acidic beech woods, dry ground forests, marshlands, fragments of swampy forests and birch woods, the damp and fresh meadows, moorland, the underwater muskgrass meadows in lakes, the pond-weeds of eutrophic lakes, well-head vegetation, concentrations of water crowfoot in river currents, straw rushes, peat morasses, vegetation of the transitional peatbogs, and moss-grown spots.
The Park forests are dominated by pine, but there is also lots of beech, oak, and artificially introduced spruce. The rarest here are service-tree and yew.
The DNP area is presently overgrown by 924 classified species of vascular plants, of which 55 are strictly protected. The most precious and unique representative of vascular plants is the fen orchid, several of which grow in one of the peatbogs. Another rarity is the northern leatherleaf in the Sicienko peatbog. Very precious are two populations of marsh violets: the creeping violet and the fen violet, as well as a whole group of peatbog plants with the mud sedge, round leaf and long leaf sundew, arrowgrass, Buxbaum sundew, and crested wood fern. From the surrounding areas, the Park is rich in orchids. Three of the peatbogs are home to the marsh helleborine, another – to the mentioned fen orchid. Tragankowe Urwisko by Drawa has a large population of the red helleborine and its relative, the broad-leaf helleborine is common in leafy forests. Meadows are rich in red, broad-leaf, and spotted march orchids, and some lesser butterfly orchids and common twayblades are found in the thicket.
Some other interesting species are: sunningdale, grass of Parnassus, stiff, flat and running clubmoss, marsh orchids (mentioned before), southern adder’s tongue, prince’s pine, and a whole group of peatbog species: mud and slender sedge, sundews, wild cranberry, bog rosemary, marsh tea, white-beak sedge, arrowgrass, Turk’s cap lily, European ginger, common honeysuckle, and twinflower.
Also interesting is the cryptogamous plant flora and the fungi. Some very rare phylum Bryophytae can be found here, such as: Helodium blandowii, Paludella squarrosa, Sphagnum fuscum, and other rare Sphagnum species. The DNP is one of only two places in Poland where one can find Arthonia aspersella. Some rare fungi appear here also, for example the icicle, porcelain and cauliflower fungus, and the saffron milkcap.
The DNP area has a unique fauna not only on the regional or Polish, but also Central-European scale. Those interested in fauna are drawn here by the possibility to see a white-tailed eagle, osprey, cormorant, merganser, grey goose, or a beaver’s feeding ground.
The rivers’ ichtyofauna – especially of Płociczna and Drawa – is extremely diverse. It hasn’t been affected by the same degree of degradation as it was in other Polish rivers. Besides some profoundly endangered species, such as the river and brook lamprey, migrating trout, and Baltic vimba, other still rare on the country’s scale have remained relatively stable and numerous: the brook trout, greyling, Eurasian minnow, and white-finned gudgeon. The native salmon population disappeared in the 1980’s, but presently, under the national salmon preservation program, Płociczna and Drawa are being artificially populated with salmon grown in the rivers of Latvia. In the Park’s lakes, as well, some rare fish species remained – the very rare in Poland lake trout, and the disappearing on the country’s scale European whitefish and lavaret.
In peatbogs, old fish-ponds and swamps, dried-out ponds, lakes, and mid-forest ponds, in the fields and meadows with swampy areas, we can meet many amphibians. Very common are frogs: the green water frog, swamp frog and grass frog, fire-bellied toad and three other toads, and the Eurasian spade-foot toad. One can also see a tree frog. Among the reptiles, besides the popular lizards (sand, viviparous, and blind-worm) and grass-snake, worthy of mentioning is the zig-zag viper. There also is a small population of the mud turtle. Some spotted smooth-snakes were noticed just outside of the Park borders.
In the Park one can see over a half of the bird species present in Poland. The most precious are: black stork, merganser, black kite, red kite, white-tailed eagle, lesser spotted eagle, osprey, hazel grouse, eagle owl, and boreal owl. Other rare or endangered on the regional scale species appearing here, usually common to islands, connected to some disappearing ecosystems, are: cormorant, goldeneye, bumble-bee eater, English hobby, corncrake, , crane, snipe, stockdove, wryneck, green woodpecker, mid-sized woodpecker, mountain wagtail, warbler, firecrest, butcherbird, green finch, oak crossbill, and others. The population of osprey, white-tailed eagle, eagle owl, crane, grey goose, and merganser is much denser in the Drawa Wilderness and Drawa National Park than anywhere else, therefore contact with them is much easier here than elsewhere. Another spectacular element of the Park’s natural habitat is the colony of cormorants on the Lake Ostrowiec’s island.
Among mammals, the easiest to see are deer, roe-deer, boar, fox, or hare. The elk population is especially numerous in Autumn and Winter, when they migrate to the Park area in search of peace and quiet. Almost everywhere one can see the signs of beavers’ activity, although it is difficult to see the animal itself. The crest animal of the Park – otter – is common here, though also rarely to be seen. The mammals fauna is also supplemented by shrews, rodents, bats, hedgehogs, and small predators, such as two kinds of marten, fitchew, ermine, and badger. Sporadically an elk, fallow deer, wolf, and even bison that live nearby will enter the DNP area.
The world of invertebrates here is very interesting. Among the initially inspected molluscs, leeches, caddis-flies, dragon flies, and butterflies, there are many rare or even unique species.
The Drawa National Park has over 900 vascular plant species, almost 150 species of trees and shrubs, and over 200 different plant communities. Such diversity is rarely seen in Poland. Because of these riches, the Drawa National Park is one of the most botanically interesting regions of northwestern Poland.
The most interesting botanical features are the stations of northern leatherleaf, fen orchid, and Turk’s cap lily. Botanists delight themselves in the beauty of peatbogs, and the rich flora of meadows, river ecosystems, well-heads, and lakes, as well as the well preserved ecosystems of beech and pine forests.
The Drawa National Park’s flora is a unique phenomenon on a national scale because of its high degree of conservation; therefore it deserves to be preserved with outmost care.
The Drawa National Park’s area is unique for its fauna not only on the regional, or national, but even on the Central European scale. A characteristic element of the DNP fauna is the large presence of species typical to vast and dense wilderness forest complexes, and also to the natural late-postglacial landscape of the Pomerania (Pomorze) region. Also worthy of stressing are the spontaneous natural tendencies of self-renewal observed in the DNP fauna.
One of the most precious natural elements of the Park is its fish world. 39 fish species are present in the DNP waters, as well as 2 species of jawless fish, all belonging to 11 families. The river richest in numerous species is Płociczna – 28 species, then comes Drawa – 27, Cieszynka – 19, Kotynica – 17, and Runica – 16. This great diversity can be attributed to the higher degree of water purity and lower degree of degradation here than in other Polish rivers. Besides some of the highly endangered, almost disappearing, species such as the river and brook lamprey, salmon, migrating troutr, and Baltic vimba, there still are some fish preserved and prospering much better here than on the national level: brook trout, greyling, Eurasian minnow, and White-finned gudgeon.
The lake richest in different species is Ostrowiec with its 24 taxonomy units. Among the endangered and most interesting fish living in lakes one can mention brown trout, Baltic vimba, European whitefish, and lavaret.
There are 13 species of amphibians and 7 species of reptiles in the Park. Among the rarest amphibians are tree frog, fire-bellied toad, and stripped toad. Some worthy of attention reptiles are European pond turtle, adder, and smooth snake. The populations of most amphibians and reptiles are stable and find great reproductory and living conditions in the Park.
The Park provides a safe harbour for birds. 160 species of birds have been distinguished in the Park and its neighbourhood. 55% of the total national number of different bird species nest here. It is a very significant ratio, provided that the Park is not very differentiated in terms of its landscape. The most precious are the species belonging to the categories E (endangered), V (vulnerable), and R (rare) according to the IUCN, species-under-protection zones, and other significantly endangered, dying out, or faunistically interesting. 10 species have been counted as such: black stork, merganser, black kite, red kite, white-tailed eagle, lesser spotted eagle, osprey, hazel grouse, eagle owl, and boreal owl. Other species rare or endangered on the regional scale are: cormorant, goldeneye, bee-eater, sparrow-hawk, English hobby, corncrake, crane, snipe, hermit, stockdove, kingfisher, wryneck, green woodpecker, mid-size woodpecker, mountain wagtail, warbler, firecrest, butcherbird, green finch, oak crossbill, and others.
There are over 40 species of mammals in the Park. Among the smaller mammals very interesting is the lesser water shrew, which figures in the Polish Red Book of Animals. The numerous bats are also worthy of attention (8 species are represented here), as well as the large populations of beaver and otter. The last two can be considered as representative species of the Park. One of the best-known groups of invertebrates is the caddis-flies. 65 different species of them were established to be present in the Park. One of the subspecies found here, Hydropsuchecontubernalis borealis, appeared to be new to Poland, while the following three were new to the Pomeranian Lake District (Pojezierze Pomorskie): Crinoecia irrorata, Ceraclea annulicornis, and Caraclea dissimilis. 13 other subspecies have been considered rare or endangered. The most valuable groups of caddis-flies live in the areas with of wellheads, rivers, as well as distrophic and oligotrophic lakes.
Another relatively well-researched group of insects are the dragonflies. 47 types have been found within the Park thus far. These are considered valuable or very valuable: Nehalenniaspeciosa, Aeshna subarctica elisabethae, Sympecma paedisca, Sumpectrum fonscolombei, and Leucorrhinia albifrons. The most valuable ones are usually found near the lakes of low trophicity.
The preliminary data about long-horned beetles, and the probability analysis of the potential presence of still-unfound types of them, allow for the conclusion that the Park area is very attractive for this group of insects. They are connected to the rich basis of habitats and food-plants present there, which is true for both the larva and adult specimen. 49 types of long-horned beetles have been found thus far, among them some rare ones, and more are predicted to be found yet. 8 of them are stenothermal. Very interesting was the finding of the rare Phymatodes glabratus.
Day butterflies present here do not make this area distinct on the national scale, even with the 54 types of butterflies found here. However, considering the geographical layout of the Park, its large degree of woodiness and a small number of places abundant in sunshine and green plants, this number is rather impressive. The stations of Agryronome laodice and Cartetocephalus palemon in the Park are the furthest place of their reach into Poland, while Lycaena dispar is endangered in Europe. In the xerothermic places Polyomnatus coridon is worthy of noticing.