Revitalisation of Beskid mountain forests to preserve natural heritage

Territorial cooperation along the Polish-Slovak border is enhancing protection of the Beskid mountains environment by regenerating and reconstructing the mountain forests so as to make them less vulnerable to tree pests and disease, while promoting their beauty in order to encourage tourism. More than 15 million seedlings have been planted on more than 1 900 ha of land and a 32 km cross-border hiking and educational trail has been marked out.

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New seedlings planted in the Beskid Mountain forests © Regional Directorate of the State Forests in Katowice New seedlings planted in the Beskid Mountain forests © Regional Directorate of the State Forests in Katowice

" This project will enable us to grow a generically diversified forest which will be more natural for the region and more resistant to natural disasters and pests. Stabilising the soil and stopping water flow on the mountain slopes will reduce the risk of flooding in the foothills. The new hiking trail makes the area even more attractive for tourism and information along the trail will increase ecological awareness. "

Maria Łabno, project coordinator and Head of Polish State Forests Ecosystem Management Department

The new tree plantations preserve and protect the mountain forests' natural heritage and consist mainly of fir and beech trees which have historically formed the basis of the forests. The plantations should improve tree retention, soil protection and the climatic functioning of the forests on both sides of the border, as well as helping to prevent flooding.

The Beskid Mountains Green Trail runs along existing tourist trails and passes through the oldest nature reserve in the mountains, where the most significant examples of the original mountain forest can be seen. To highlight the beauty of the forests and their fauna and flora, raise ecological awareness and tell the story of the project, information boards in Polish and Slovak have been placed along the trail.

Visible effects to come

The Beskids are mostly in a Natura 2000 area and revitalisation of the forests is thus crucial for the environment. While the effects of the project are clear to foresters and environmentalists, many of them will only become visible to tourists and local inhabitants in several years when the new trees grow, although the saplings are already helping to stabilise soil on the slopes and to slow water flows.

A big problem facing the Beskid forests is the mass planting, in past years, of spruce trees which have low resistance to pests and disease. The rapid and, according to experts, irreversible decline of the borderland spruce forests required joint cross-border action under the revitalisation project. This should make the forests stronger and more diversified in the long term, allowing future generations to enjoy them.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “REW BE LAS” is EUR 6 416 811, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund is contributing EUR 4 085 720 from the Operational Programme “Poland - Slovakia” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date

14/08/2015