The Łódzkie province is situated in the traditional area between the Polish Lowland and the Małopolska Upland. It is the northern limit of the area of white fir, sycamore, beech, and spruce; thus, interpenetration of upland and lowland elements can be observed here, which influences the flora and fauna differentiation. Areas of the greatest natural and scenery value, places where rare plant and animal species occur, parts of natural forests, peatbogs, wet or dry meadows, and single valuable natural objects – are protected and given special treatment. This way, the national system of protected areas is being formed. In the Łódzkie Province, this system includes three landscape parks, six regions of protected landscape, thirty-one reserves, 331 monuments of nature, and 250 old parks, of which 150 are considered to be monumental.Such a system allows to protect, first of all, the most valuable areas which are surrounded by others. Landscape parks together with their protective zones cover an area of ca 1150 sq kilometers, which is about 20% of the province area. Since all the three parks, i.e., Przedborski Landscape Park, Sulejowski Landscape Park, and Spalski landscape Park, are situated in the valley of Pilica River, the “On-Plica landscape Park Complex” was established in 1996. Its management resides at Moszczenica near Piotrków Trybunalski.
Przedborski Landscape Park
Established in 1988, together with its protective zone the Park stretches in the south-eastern part of the former Province of Piotrków [municipalities: Przedbórz, Kluczewsko, Fałków and Wielgomłyny] and the north-western part of the former Province of Kielce [municipalities Krasocin and Łopuszno]. Generally, the Park is divided into three parts: centrally located Przedborsko-Małogoskie Hill Range and two adjoining lowlands – the western, a little wavy with sandy dunes up to the Pilica River, and eastern wet forest and meadow areas on the rivers Czarna Pilicka and Czarna Mieczyńska. Picturesque landscapes not disturbed by any huge industrial buildings, silence and calmness, clearness of air and waters, and diversity in fauna and flora – are no doubt the main features of the region. We can admire unique wide views from the hills, or walk all the day through the forests hot hearing any engines.
The natural forest ecosystems are predominated by pine trees with some dmixture of birch, oak, and alder. The most valuable, typical, or unique parts of nature are particularly protected, and so, three nature reserves have been established in Park territory: “Bukowa Góra” [34.84 hectares] – beech wood on a limestone hill; “Piskorzeniec” [409.19 ha] – peatbogs and marshes with relict species of wildlife; “Murawy Dobromierskie” [36.29 ha] – xerothermic grasses.
Other areas very interesting floristically ate the woods Świdziński and Czarna Rózga. There are seventy-two huge, monumental trees – monuments of nature – and a 600-metres-long lime tree alley in the village of Dobromierz. The two erratics in the Gustawów range are examples of inanimate nature monuments. There are also some nature curiosities – so called “Concrescences”: one, of pine with oak, in the Rączki range, and another, of pine with birch, nearby gamekeeper’s cottage in Stara Wieś.
The Park area is covered with rare species of plants, and the total numbers of vascular plant species reaches about 900. Such calciphilous plants are large-flower anemone, ciliated gentian, and dwarf cherry have here their only localities in central Poland. Of mountain species are here Sambucus racemosa and snowdrop [Galanthus]. Other rarities under strict protection include Salix vacciniofoliata, an arctic relic on the Piskorzeniec. Turk’s cap lily [Lilium martagon], lady’s slipper [Cypripedium vulgaris], and many others – at lest thirty-nine species altogether.
Birds are represented by the greatest number of fauna species – about 168 – and for 98 of them id their breeding area. Among the protected species are black stork, silent swan, and kingfisher.
Beavers have been introduced into the Piskorzeniec reserve, and now we can come across more and more their specific traces there. And a sudden sight of roe deers or red deers among trees reminds us the past; just here, near Przedbórz, were the favourite Royal Hunting Forests for brave Polish King, Casimir the Great and Władysław Jagiełło [14th and 15th centuries]. There are also material relics of those times – some of them are real historical monuments:
• St Alexis parish church [early 14th century, only original Gothic tower left], town walls and remains of a medieval castle, a group of 18th and 19th century houses, and the town hall from early 19th century – in Przedbórz;
• The late baroque church [early 19th century] and remains of a country house complex [18th century] in Kluczewsko;
• The ruins of the Polish Brothers’ church from 17th century in Łapczyna Wola.
The landscape of the region is dotted with numerous wayside shrines and statues of saints, several of them being two hundred or even three hundred years old [in Przedbórz, Wola Przedborska, and Góry Mokre]. There are many old houses here and there; sometimes, rather modern farmhouses are intersperse with old, thatched cottages, and sometimes we can see only ruins or just clumps of nettles…There is a complete farm in a quite good state [late 18th century] in Chałupy, and remains of old watermills in Pilczyca and Grodek.
The location as well as rich and varied natural environment makes the Park an attractive tourist destination. It is perfectly suitable for quiet, even contemplating tourism – walking or cycling, watching birds and watching other animals, collecting of forest berries, mushrooms, and herbs, and canoeing.
Clean waters, different sceneries – sunny and colorful meadows contrasting with deep, dark forests, rocky hills and peatbogs, dry dunes and marshes, a mosaic of filds, and stork’s nests on roofs or old trees, rare plants and animals, and much, much more we can see and experience in the Przedborski Landscape Park.
Sulejowski Landscape Park
Established in 1994, it includes the middle part of the Pilica River, the Sulejowski Reservoir, and natural surroundings of the greatest value. Including the protective zone, it covers an area of ca 569 sq km, stretching over the following municipalities: Aleksandrów, Łęki Szlacheckie, Mniszków, Przedbórz, Ręczno, Rozprza, Sulejów, Tomaszów Mazowiecki, and Wolbórz – and towns: Piotrków Trybunalski, Sulejów, and Tomaszów Mazowiecki. The west-northern part of the Park lies on the Piotrkowska Plain; its southern part, in the Radomszczańskie Hills; and its eastern part, in the opoczyńskie Hills. The Pilica River and the Sulejowski Reservoir are its axis. The Park is situated on the northern limit of the area of white fir, sycamore, spruce, and beech. The forests, which cover an area of about 285 sq km, are only mere remains of the formerly extensive Puszcza Pilicka forests. Primeval forests, Royal Hunting’s, charcoal kilns all belong to the past, and only some small parts of today’s forests remind us their former splendor. Ana all of them are nature reserves now and includes most of really interesting and unique remains of the Puszcza Pilicka:
- “Lubiaszów” [202.4 ha] – fir wood, oak wood;
- “Meszcze” [35.3 ha] - lime tree wood;
- “Błogie” [69.5 ha] - fir wood;
- “Gaik” [32.9 ha] – old pine and oak wood;
- “Twarda” [23.5 ha] – fir wood;
- “Jaksonek” [79.9 ha] – oak wood and twinflower;
- “Niebieskie Źródła”, or “Blue Springs” [28.8 ha] – karstic springs with surroundings;
- “Jawora” [88.0 ha] – upland deciduous and mixed forest;
- “Wielkopole” [42.1 ha] – dry ground forest with fir;
- “Dęby w Meszczach”, or “Oaks in Meszcze” [39.2 ha] – old oak wood.
“Lubiaszów”, “Jawora”, and “Niebieskie Źródła” belong to the most valuable reserves not only in the Park but in the whole Poland as well. In the park forests there have been observed thirty-five plants species under strict protection and fifteen species, which are partially preserved. We can meet there some real rarities, such as royal fern [Osmunda regalis], twinflower [Linnaea borealis], and others.
Insects are represented by the greatest number of local fauna species; some are strictly protected, e.g. green dragonfly, emperor butterfly, and swallow-tail butterfly [Papilo machaon]. In the rivers and Sulejowski Reservoir, thirty-five fish and cyclostomate species occur, of which Ukrainian lamprey and golden-spined loach are registered in the Red Book.
In the Park area have been discovered five species of reptiles, twelve of amphibians, 196 of birds, and 39 of mammals. Some of bird species are also registered in the Red Book, e.g. bittern [Botaurus stellaris], golden-eye [Bucephala calangula], and Sterna albifrons.
At present, quite a lot of trees have been recognized here as monuments of nature, the most valuable being oaks in the “Dęby w Meszczach” reserve, single oaks in the Lubieński forest, and some lime trees in the protective zone of “Meszcze” reserve.
One of semi-natural curiosities of the region is situated on the south of Tomaszów Mazowiecki. These are caves made by manual mining of quartz sands, today called “Groty Nagórzyckie” – a dwelling place of bats. Out of the ten former parks, three are considered to be monumental: at Bąkowa Góra, Skotniki, and Zajączków. In is worth-while to see the Cistercian Abbey at Sulejów-Podklasztorze, the Franciscan Monastery Complex erected in the 17th century at Smardzewice, and the wooden late Gothic church at Skotniki. Other things of tourist interest include the baroque church and remains of Romanesque castle at Bąkowa Góra, the baroque church at Błogie, the church at Lubień, the chapel of the Holy Virgin Mary founded by the Lizęga family in 17th century, and many others.
Some examples or original wooden village buildings style have been preserved, and jut a few monuments of old technologies – a narrow-gauge railway [formerly connecting Piotrków and Sulejów], a wooden watermill at Dąbrowa upon Czarna, a smithy and an alcohol distillery at Bąkowa Góra, and also remains of old watermills and granaries here and there. The most attractive tourist areas lie along the picturesque valley of the Pilica and Sulejowski Reservoir, which is of particular interest for lovers of water sports; the Park area provides excellent conditions for hiking, cycling, horse riding, and, first of all, the farming tourism.
Spalski Landscape Park
The Park, established in October, 1995, is valued for its well-preserved natural scenery whit great variety of plant and animal species. The Park includes the middle Pilica valley and, together with its protective zone, the eastern part of Piotrkowska Plain and the north-western part of Radomska Plain. It covers an area of 360 sq km and stretches over the following municipalities: Inowłódz, Poświętne, Rzeczyca, Tomaszów Mazowiecki, Lubochnia, czerniewice, Opoczno and Sławno. The greater part, more than 57% of the park area is covered with forests,so called “Puszcza Pilicka”, but they are only remains of former vast, primeval Pilickie forests. At present, they are divided into a few forest complexes, and the Spalskie forests are no doubt the most valuable among them. The Spalskie forests came under regular management from early 19th century, and for almost one century all the works here have been submitted to the purpose of hunting, especially of czar’s great autumn hunting’s. During the First World War and after, up to the thirties, large forest areas were being devastated, and the animal population was being exterminated. The very same devastating process was taking place through the years or the Second World War and the following decade.
At present, the Spalskie forests are mostly young or middle-aged pinetrees, though we can meet also magnificent old oaks and pines here and there and even small parts of ancient forests; they are all strictly preserved as nature reserves:
- “Konewka” [100 ha] – oak woods;
- “Spała” [56 ha] – mixed woods with old oaks and pines;
- “Żądłowice” [139 ha] – a mosaic of pine woods and alder swamps;
- “Jeleń” [47 ha] – leafy woods with fir;
- “Sługocice” [9 ha] – toothwort [nine-leaved].
Particular pinetrees are up to 180 years old and more than 35 meters high – regular, straight, like columns [Spalska pinetree]. About one hundred old trees, mostly oaks, have been recognized as monuments of nature, and some of them occur in the old, monumental country parks at Rzeczyca and Grotowice as well as in old cemeteries at Rzeczyca and Poświętne. The total number of vascular plant species reaches 800. The varieties under strict protection [altogether 19 species] include ivy, mezereon, Turk’s cap lilly, and columbine. The Park’s fairy rich fauna is closely dependant on the local flora and on a variety of ecological conditions. Every kind of insects is connected with particular environment; the Pilica and its old beds abound in fish [28 species]; there are only nine species amphibians and five of reptiles here; birds, however, are represented by a greater number of species – some 140. Quite well examined are the mammals: 7 species under strict protection and 24 others. At Książ near Smardzewice there is a special aurochs sanctuary, which covers an area of 32 hectares [established in 1934]. At present it is enclosed and is inhabited by dozen or so of aurochs. The Park whit its protective zone is situated in the frontier area of three historical provinces of Poland: Great Poland, Little Poland, and Mazovia. Old trade routes and particularly their junctions, the nearby hills, fords across the rivers – all these are places of people’s great interest.
Inowłódz is such a place, and a very old one. The firs mention of the locality date from 11th century. There was also a commercial settlement here at that time. King Casimir the Great took particular care of the town. He walled it and built a castle. Inowłódz had been keeping its civic rights up to 19th century and since that time the local climatic advantages of Spała and Inowłódz have been known and highly appreciated. The oldest architectural monuments of Poland belongs the Romanesque church from the late 11th century.
The Philippine church and Monastery at Studzianna is another renowned sacral monument of the Region. It was built in 17th century thanks to a foundation which was connected with the cult of a painting representing the Holy Family.
Quite a lot of original wooden farm buildings have been preserved, as well as others buildings of old technologies – watermills, windmills, and sawmills.
The present Park territory was a theatre of many battles during the Second World War, and a great number of people were killed in mass executions there. This tragic recent history is commemorated by many tablets and stones. From Radomsko, through Spała, Inowłódz, Studzianna, to Anielin [the place where Major Henryk Dobrzański “Hubal” fought his last battle] runs a 100-km-long route of the Second World War partisan battlefields.
The park with its surroundings offers an all-the-year-round tourist season. Favorable climatic conditions, fascinating scenery, opportunities for mushrooms picking and for different kinds of tourism – all make this area a really very attractive tourist destination.
Tłumaczenie: Ryszard Stolarski