Gorce National Park (GNP)

Basic information

Gorczański National Park is located in the western part of the Beskydy Mountains, in the southern part of Poland. On the ridges of Gorce, containing the highest mountain Jaworzyna Kamienicka (1,288 m.a.s.l.), mixed fir-beech-spruce forests grow. The highest altitudes display natural spruce forests (similar to Šumava, in the past affected by bark beetle). The mountain crest has artificially created plains, which in the past served for sheep grazing.

Area: 7. 030 hectares
Founded: In 1981 (First ever NP Nature Reserve, "Wladyslaw Orkan" which was to protect the mountain virgin forest, was established in 1927)

Category IUCN II

Further information:
Official website of the GNP Administration:
AJ -

Contact address:
Gorce National Park
Poreba Wielka 590
PL-34-735 Niedzwiedz
Tel/fax: (+48 18) 331 72 07

Zoning and plan of care

The National Park territory is divided into three zones:
Strictly Protected Zone - an area of 3,611 hectares
Transitional Management Zone - an area of 2,882 hectares.
Landscape protection zone - an area of 537 hectares.

The municipalities are not included in the NP

Land ownership in GNP (status at 31.12. 2001), the government slowly releases funds for purchase of the lands
State owned land - 6,512 hectares; privately owned land - 416 hectares; other owners - 81 hectares.

Plan of care

Like the remaining Polish national parks, the GPN is also waiting for an amendment to the Nature Conservation Act, under which it can prepare ten-year management plans for the national parks. Currently, only very brief plans of care for the national parks are being approved. The plan of care (an overview of the strategic objectives and action) is prepared by the National Park Administration, discussed with the Scientific Council (representatives of major research institutions) and approved by the Polish Government. The neighbouring municipalities of the NP are kept informed about the plan of care.

Strictly Protected Zone - an area of 3,611 hectares
All active management measures in this area were terminated (including hunting); in this core area only conducting research and monitoring is permitted. The territory is not accessible by motor vehicle. Public access is permitted only on the marked tourist trails.

Transitional Management Zone
- an area of 2,882 hectares.
This zone is further divided into three sub zones:
The "ochrona częściowa - zachowawcza" Sub Zone (944.21 ha) - protects forests at lower altitudes, which are in a near-natural condition and can soon be included into the Strictly protected zone. Active management is not implemented in this territory.
The "ochrona częściowa renaturalizacyjna" Sub Zone (595.70 ha) - in this territory, active management is focused on the revitalisation of the natural species composition of the forests.
The "ochrona częściowa stabilizująca" Sub Zone (1,342.60 hectares) - consists of a protection zone in which various measures are implemented to minimize the impact of natural processes occurring in the NP on the surrounding forest areas.

Landscape protection zone
- an area of 537 hectares.
This zone includes the artificially created mountain crest created plains, which appeared in connection with the Wallachian colonisation of the mountains. These areas used to be used for sheep grazing and on a smaller scale for cattle and horse grazing. Some parts were used for hay. In recent decades, most of these cleared plains were abandoned and the vegetation was left for natural succession. The Administration of the GNP is trying to revive grass mowing in at least part of the plains in order to maintain the diversity of the meadow species.

Natura 2000

As in the Czech Republic, Poland also has, within Natura 2000, protected territories according to the Directive on Habitats No. 92/43/EHS

In Poland such territories are entitled "SOO - specjalne obszary ochrony siedlisk" (in the Czech Republic it is EVL - Locations of European importance). Significant bird sanctuaries protected according to the Directive on Birds Protection No. 79/409/EHS are known in Poland as the "OSO - obszary specjalnej ochrony ptaków" (in the Czech Republic these are called "SPA" - Bird sanctuaries).

Gorczański National Park is a bird sanctuary:

OSO: Gorce - (the borders almost coincide with the boundaries of the NP), PLB120001

The plan of care for the bird sanctuary and its incorporation into the plan of care for the NP is currently under discussion.

Research and presentation of the results

In GNP the research is provided by the NP Administration staff and also by researchers from several universities and other research institutes.
On the 125th anniversary of the NP in 2006, a conference on research in the NP was held (for more information see:

The research concentrates on exploring virgin forests on the steep slopes of the Carpathians, the monitoring of natural mountain forests and the process of the revitalisation of the spruce forests after bark beetle gradation. The monitoring of grouse and large carnivores is regularly carried out.

The National Park has a network of inventory plots, used to monitor changes in the forest ecosystems.

The research results are published in the scientific journals and the Administration of the GNP issues publications where it presents the results of the research to the public.

Selected scientific publications presenting the outcomes of scientific research carried out in the GNP include
· Chwistek, K., P. Czarnota & J. Loch. 1997. Distribution, structure and dynamics of the European Silver Abies alba Mill. In the Gorce National Park. Ochrona Przyrody 54: 15-25.

· Chwistek, K. 2001. Dynamics of tree stands in Gorce National Park (Southern Poland) in the period 1992 - 1997. Nature Conservation 58: 17-32.

Copies of the article are available in the specialised library of the Administration of the Šumava NP and PLA in Kašperské Hory.

Non-fiction publications issued by the GNP, presenting the outcomes of the research carried out in the NPB include
- Gorczańskin Park Narodowy, 25 let ochrony dziedzictwa przyrodniczego i kulturowego Gorców, ed. Wojciech Różański - available in the library of the Administration of Šumava NP and PLA in Kašperské Hory.

- Further information materials from the GNP Administration (particularly comprehensive guides to nature trails), some of which are available in the English and German languages.

Visitors and locals

During the early 1980s a total of 15,000 visitors walked the nature trails of the NP each year. By the end of the decade, this number had dropped to 9,000 visitors a year. The current number of visitors has started to increase.

Admission into the GNP is currently free of charge. Charging visitors is currently being considered, in line with other Polish NP.

Entry into the GNP is permitted only on the marked tourist trails (a total of five trails). The geomorphology of the terrain limits entry outside the marked trails and the visitors respect the limitations. A point of interest is that one of the former trails was closed after the discovery of grouse nesting places.

The Administration of the NP issued comprehensive guidebooks for a total of six nature trails.

The NP used to provide a cycle path for mountain bikes but this has been closed ever since part of the path was destroyed by flooding and landslides.

In winter, no ski tracks are maintained, although visitors can also use the summer trails in winter.

Map: Hiking trails in GNP

Guides available at individual nature trails in GNP

Cooperation between Šumava and Gorce National Parks

· The first visit by Šumava NP and PLA staff to Gorce NP took place in October 2006.
- Within this visit, a mutual exchange of the technical publications issued by the Administrations of Šumava (Silva Gabreta) and GNP PLA was agreed (...)

Photos from the visit of Gorce NP - October 2006
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