Geographia Polonica (2015) vol. 88, iss. 2

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Economic use of the Babia Góra Massif and the assessment of anthropogenic changes in the course of the timberline

Adam Łajczak, Tomasz Lamorski

Geographia Polonica (2015) vol. 88, iss. 2, pp. 115-138
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.0019

Abstract

In Poland’s Babia Góra Massif (the most elevated ridge in the Western Flysch Carpathians), and in the surrounding valleys, various kinds of economic use of natural resources have been engaged in the last 600 years or more. However, the most major changes in the natural environment here have taken place under the influence of grazing and forestry. Some such economic uses already represent forms of human activity that are now history, their cessation being the prerequisite for a regeneration of vegetation that is now ongoing. One of the most visible effects of past grazing is a lowered timberline first and foremost coinciding with the more accessible southern slope of the massif. In turn, on a small part of the steep northern slope degraded by grazing, avalanches have become active, along with debris flows of earlier times, both of which also served to fragment forest. Protection of the Babia Góra Massif has brought the end to grazing referred to, and this has allowed for the progressive return of the timberline to its previous position. Overall, the work described here is based on information from the literature, unpublished studies and maps dating back over the last 400 years.

Keywords: economic use of mountains, grazing, forestry, timberline, Babia Góra Mt., Poland, flysch Western Carpathians

Adam Łajczak [alajczak@up.krakow.pl], Institute of Geography Pedagogical University of Krakow Podchorążych 2, 30 -084 Krakow: Poland
Tomasz Lamorski, Babiogórski National Park 34-223 Zawoja 1403: Poland