Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 3

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The landscape of abandoned villages in the Western Bieszczady: The problem of definition and classification

Jacek Wolski

Geographia Polonica (2016) vol. 89, iss. 3, pp. 371-387
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0064

Abstract

The Western Bieszczady mountains are an example of a region of Poland whose population suffered extremely heavily from the effects of wartime and post-war migrations linked to political repression. In 1944-1947 andlater in 1951, from more than 100 villages in the region that had existed since the 15th and 16th centuries, approximately 90% of the total number of inhabitants were forcibly relocated – chiefly ethnic Ruthenians(Boykos). The scale in time and space, and the consequences for the landscape, of the natural and socioeconomic processes taking place there over the next 70 years have proved remarkable on even a European scale. The diversity of the former human activity, followed by a combination of abiotic and biotic renaturalisation processes and secondary human pressure, has led to the creation of unique spatial units. The main aim of this article is to address problems relating to the definition and classification of the contemporary landscape of theareas permanently abandoned by human populations in the Western Bieszczady, through the lens of selected conceptual perspectives of other researchers. Deliberations also covered the memory of the subject landscape in the material and information layers (structural and functional continuum, sustainability of spatial units, time in the sense of the historical evolution of landscapes).

Keywords: abandoned rural areas, definition and classification of the landscapes, memory of the landscape, Western Bieszczady mountains, Boykos

Jacek Wolski [j.wolski@twarda.pan.pl], Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences, 00-818 Warsaw, Twarda 51/55, Poland