Bialowieza National Park
The Białowieża National Park is the oldest Polish national park. Its beginning was the forest inspectorate “Rezerwat” established in 1921. The inspectorate was transformed in 1932 into “National Park in Białowieża", which was reactivated in 1947 as the Białowieża National Park. In 1977 the Białowieża National Park was included into the chain of Biosphere Reserves UNESCO but two years later it was recognized as the only in Poland natural object of the World's Heritage. In 1996 its area was enlarged up to 10517 ha. At present 5726 ha of the area of the Park is under strict protection. In 1997 BNP as the first national park in Poland was honoured with the Diploma of Europe. The Park is situated in the central part of the Białowieża Forest. It protects last natural forests with the primeval character on the European lowland, preserved in the sphere of deciduous and mixed forests. The features of this type of forests are: century- oldness, multi-species, diverse spatial structure and presence of all the development stages of dead and decomposing trees.
The symbol of the Park is a bison, the species saved from extinction. On the territory of the Białowieża National Park there are 806 species of vascular plants, more than 3000 species of mushrooms and about 280 species of lichens. The world of animals is also very diverse. In the Park there are representatives of more than 50 species of mammals, more than 120 species of breeding birds and about 10 000 species of invertebrates, mainly insects. The Białowieża National Park consists of several objects. The most precious of them is the strict nature reserve, which may be visited by tourists only with a licensed guide. Forests of the Hwoźna Protected Zone with marked trails and nature paths, may be visited without a guide. The Bison Display Reserve (part of the Bison Breeding Centre) presents some species of big mammals living in the Białowieża Forest, Polish horses of Tarpan type and hybrids of a bison and domestic cattle called zhubron. Environmental education of BNP is conducted by the workers of the Educational-Museum Centre, including the Environmental Education Centre, modern Forest and Nature Museum, Complex of Publishing Companies and Social Communication and Tourist Information Point (open during the tourist season). The objects of the Centre are located on the territory of the picturesque, historic Palace Park, where besides many species of trees and bushes are historical-cultural objects.
More information on the website www.bpn.com.pl
OBJECTS IN THE BIAŁOWIEŻA NATIONAL PARK
• THE EUROPEAN BISON DISPLAY RESERVE OF THE BIAŁOWIEŻA NATIONAL PARK
In the display reserve we can see the following animals: Polish horses of tarpan type, bison, hybrids of a bison and farm cattle called żubroń, deer, roe-deer, wild boars, and so on, tel. 681 23 98, ( in a summer season from 15 April to 15 October opening hours are: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., in a winter season from 16 October to 14 April opening hours are: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. except for Mondays, entrance tickets can be bought at a place).
Exit to the reserve from the route Hajnówka – Białowieża (3 km before Białowieża).
• THE NATURE-FOREST MUSEUM IN BIAŁOWIEŻA
Modern exhibition showing flora and fauna of the Białowieża Forest and forest bee-keeping, equipped with audio-visual aids, temporary exhibitions are also organized, an additional attraction is a viewing tower with a panorama of surroundings, tel. 681 22 75, the Pałacowy Park (in a summer season from 15 April to 15 October opening hours are Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. - 4.30 p.m., Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., in a winter season from 16 October to 14 April opening hours are: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. except for Mondays, entrance tickets can be bought at a place).
• THE STRICT PROTECTION AREA
The most precious part of the Białowieża National Park where are preserved the oldest tree stands of the Białowieża Forest (entrance only with a guide, in groups up to 25 people; tickets available at he Białowieża National Park).
• THE PAŁACOWY PARK
The park was founded at the tsar's palace at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in order to make the nearest surroundings of the palace more attractive. Today it is a beautiful place for walks. There are 89 species of trees and bushes here. On its territory there is a modern building of the Nature-Forest Museum, the historic manor house from 1845 - the seat of the Centre of Nature Education as well as buildings from the tsar's period.
• THE HWOŹNA PROTECTION ZONE
It is a northern and underestimated area of the Białowieża National Park, there are three tourist trails which make it easier to move around.