Tatra National Park - Poland
Tatra National Park
Parent Site Name
The Tatra National Park was established in 1954 to protect the Polish part of the Tatra mountains: both the High Tatras and Western Tatras, plus the northern foothills of the range. The area of the Park is approx. 212 km2, with no formally established buffer zone. Since 1992, the Park has been included in the UNESCO MaB Reserve (covering both Polish and Slovak Tatras - please see its separate description as the "Parent site" here on this website). It is also also included in the Natura 2000 network: both as “bird” Special Protection Area (SPA) and “habitat” Site of Community Importance (SCI) - the code PLC 120001. The Park protects nature, landscape, and cultural heritage of the only truly alpine mountain range in Poland. Although currently devoid of glaciers (however, dotted with a number of beatiful mountain oligotrophic lakes instead) its geomorphology is largely a result of glacial activity which shaped its crystalline, metamorphic and sedimentary bedrocks. The mountains are characterized by climate, soils, hydrological features (mountain springs and lakes), caves and karst areas, and rich biodiversity typical of subalpine and alpine environments. Also characteristic are altitudinal vegetation zones / belts (described elsewhere in this profile), These vegetation zones span from mixed forests, through coniferous forests and dwarf pine to Alpine meadow communities, above which sparse vegetation endures among rocks and screes. About 2/3 of the Tatras are covered by forest ecosystems. Most important tree species are Picea abies and Abies alba, although Pinus sylvestris, Pinus cembra, Larix decidua and Pinus mugo occur as well, accompanied birch (Betula sp.) and rowan (Sorbus sp.). In mixed forests occurring at lower elevations, species of beech (Fagus sp.) and maple (Acer sp.) can be found. The Park's ecosystems can be divided into terrestrial forest ecosystems (occupying almost 13 000 ha), terrestrial non-forest ecosystems (approx. 7770 ha, 49 plant communities) and freshwater ecosystems (approx. 192 ha, out of which lakes occupy approx. 149 ha). As much as 60% of the Park is covered by habitats requiring conservation (32 types of habitats of Community importance) The Park is home to more than 10 000 species (approx. 5500 species of invertebrates, 290 - vertebrates, 1000 - vascular plants, over 1000 - fungi, 700 - lichens, 500 - mosses etc.). Out of them as many as 1000 are endemites. The Tatras are an important centre of endemic fauna and flora, including rare relic species. There are 35 endemic species mong flowering plants alone. Examples for regional endemic species are: Erysimum wahlenbergii, Cochlearia tatrae, Pulsatilla slavica and Erigeron hungaricus. The Alpine meadows are renowned for their diversity. About 300 plant species can be found there. Various species in the Alpine environments are interpreted as glacial relicts, e.g. Ranunculus alpestris, Ranunculus glacialis, Dianthus glacialis, Gentiana frigida, Primula minima and Saxifraga aizoides. In snowbed environments Salix herbacea and Salix reticulata are characteristic. The Tatra Mountains are famous for their large predator species such as the wildcat (Felis silvestris), lynx (Lynx lynx), wolf (Canis lupus) and brown bear (Ursus arctos), which are largely extinct in other parts of Central Europe. Characteristic bird species are the Golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), Eurasian nutcracker (Nucifraga caryocatactes), rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), Eurasian eagle-owl (Bubo bubo), Western capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) and black grouse (Tetrao tetrix). An endemic subspecies of the chamois exist in the Tatra as well (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica). 29 animal and 6 plant species are species of Community importance. The site has code:LTER_EU_PL_017
General Characteristics, Purpose, History
National park established to protect natural and cultural heritage of Polish Tatras - the only mountain range having an alpine character in the country. The Park aims to protect:mountain landscapes, ecosystems and species in the Carpathians – specifically these characteristic of the alpine and subalpine zones, including rare endemic and relic species; natural processes occurring within – and among – mountain ecosystems; unique abiotic features (geology and geomorphology) of mountainous terrain of the alpine characteristics (e.g. post-glacial relief, karst, etc.); cultural heritage of historic settlement, land management, exploration, tourism, artistic inspirations, health and spa functions etc.
Established by a ministerial decision of October 1954, officially started its operation on 1 January 1955. In the earlier period, numerous initiatives aiming at protecting Tatra species were proposed by elites (artists, scientists and other prominent figures) and some of them implemented. For example, the first legislative act for protecting endangered species – in this case, the Tatra marmot and chamois - was adopted in October 1868 by the National Parliament of Galizien in Lviv and, in 1869 signed by the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I. The Tatras had been considered precious and worthy of protection (w/respect to landscape and nature in general) even earlier: since their scientific, tourist and artistic exploration - which had pioneered (first recorded ascents) as early as in the 2nd half of the 16th Centrury (!) - developed and intensified from approx. early 19th Century.
Affiliation and Network Specific Information