Geographia Polonica (2012) vol. 85, iss. 4

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Changes In The Rural Landscape Of The Polish Sudety Mountains In The Post-War Period

Agnieszka Latocha

Geographia Polonica (2012) vol. 85, iss. 4, pp. 13-21
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/GPol.2012.4.21

Abstract

In the post-war period, the area of the Sudety Mountains (also known in English as the Sudetic Mountains or the Sudetes)has been subject to two main trends regarding the transformation of the landscape in rural areas. In a first phase – intensifyingabove all in the period from the 1950s through to the 1970s – it was possible to observe an abrupt depopulationprocess, most especially affecting the areas at higher elevations. The result of this was the disappearance of manyvillages, or else marked decreases in numbers of both inhabitants and buildings. Knock-on effects from that included theonset of secondary succession on abandoned fields, with the result that new areas of forest have emerged in many partsof the contemporary landscape that were once cultivated fields or pastureland.Equally, from the end of the 1990s, a new trend as regards the management of rural areas in the Sudetes began tomake itself apparent. This entailed an intensive development of single-family building construction, including in the formof summer homes. This development has unfortunately been chaotic in many areas, making no reference to the spatialstructure originating in villages established far earlier; the result being disruption of the spatial order. At the same time,there has been no return to villages’ former functions, and nor is it possible to observe any increase in the area put touse as farmland. Nevertheless, it is true to say that many areas of what had been waste ground undergoing secondarysuccession have now been brought back under management, not least in connection with the implementation of jointagricultural and environmental programmes of the European Union.Various actions are today underway with a view to the typical cultural landscape of the Sudety Mountains (including theJelenia Góra Basin) being reinstated and protected, with the rural aspect to the mountain landscape being promoted asan attribute favourable to further regional development (inter alia of the Kłodzko region).

Keywords: cultural landscape, rural landscape, land-use changes, upgrading and protection of the landscape, Sudety Mountains

Agnieszka Latocha, University of Wrocław Faculty of Earth Science and Environmental Management pl. Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław: Poland