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Białowieża forest

Here are a few photos from the celebrated primeval forest of Białowieża in Poland, which I visited on a recce visit (in September 2009).

You have to be with an official local guide - I was with Mateusz Szymura, as well as Honeyguide leader Artur Wiatr. The entrance to the strictly protected part of Białowieża National Park is simple but elegant.

forest entrance

Forget living trees for a moment. The key component of Białowieża National Park is the volume of dead wood, fallen and standing.

The tree species are largely familiar to a naturalist from the UK, though the mix of deciduous and evergreen is interesting. We noted large-leaved lime, spruce, ‘English’ oak, hornbeam, alder, hazel, silver birch, wych elm, Scots pine and Norway maple.

large-leaved lime
Large-leaved lime and forest guide Mateusz Szymura

All the fallen timber makes the forest look 'untidy' compared with a managed woodland. Wild boar rootings add to this effect. Untidy, of course = good for wildlife.

A boardwalk helps to protect a wet area and allows easy access.

spruce trees

Spruce attracts three-toed woodpeckers, one of eight woodpecker species, including white-backed and middle spotted. I must visit in spring one year!

Big though the strictly protected part is - 100 square kilometres - the bulk of Białowieża forest is 'managed', i.e. timber extracted, and a vigorous debate continues about extending the National Park boundaries.

That wider area of forest includes a superb patch of flooded woodland pictured, right: there are more pictures on our beavers web page.

Chris Durdin, October 2009

Back to Poland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Honeyguide nature notes

Click here for the Białowieża National Park website

Guardian article on Białowieża here, April 2011.

the lazy way

Some tourists go round by horse and cart - the main tracks are wide enough. Fun, but rather limiting for nature study.

Scots pine

The sheer size of many trees is impressive. Scots pine above, oak below. oak

Note the dead branches at the top of this oak, and the dead tree leaning against it.

If it falls, unless it blocks a main path, it's left.

A huge wych elm, if I remember rightly.

More fallen timber. You get the theme!

flooded forest

This flooded woodland area lies to the north of the strictly protected forest.

Winter nature notes from Poland

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