Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, Poland is a lowland area, apart from the mountainous border regions in the south. More than three-quarters of the land area is less than 200 m above sea level. and forms the eastern part of the Central European Plain. The terrain forms in the north are characterized by the recent inland ice erosion and accumulation of sediment. In southern Poland, it is primarily the bedrock properties that have been crucial to the relief.
A number of zones running east-west can be discerned. Along the largely flat coastline there is a belt with wide sandy beaches, dunes and shallow beach lakes. To the south is a zone of moraine ridges with many sinks and circular lakes, part of the Baltic moraine ridge. The highest point is 329 m above sea level, and it forms a boundary to the south for the spread of the latest inland ice. A third zone is the central lowland, covered by valleys formed by the melt water from the melting inland ice. In these, several of Poland’s large rivers now float, for example. Wisła and its tributary Bug as well as Noteć and Warta, tributaries to Odra (Oder). In many places the sandy glacial deposits are coveredloose soil. South of this belt, the land surface rises to plateaus and older mountain ranges. There are also carbon deposits from the Carboniferous period and other sedimentary rocks from the Paleozoic, as well as gneisses and granites. The belt at the far south consists of the mountain ranges Sudetne with the peak Śnieżka (1,603 m above sea level) in the southwest, the Beskids with the top Babia Góra (1,725 m above sea level) and the Tatra mountains with the top Rysy (2,499 m above sea level).) in the southeast.
The prevailing soil in Poland is pod sun of various kinds, but brown earth also occurs in the northeast and rendzina soils (terra rossa) on limestone bedrock.
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Poland has a warm temperate climate with relatively small differences across the country. The weather has a maritime feel in the west with slightly milder winters and cooler summers than in the east and in the southern mountain regions, where the climate is more continental with greater temperature variations and colder winters. The average temperature is 17–19 °C in July and 1 to −5 °C in January.
The weather can be varied throughout the year, as mild Atlantic air from the west over Poland meets drier eastern air masses from the Eurasian continent. However, winters usually show longer periods of similar weather, usually mild and humid but sometimes dry and sunny. As high pressure stabilizes in winter over Eastern Europe, the cold can be long-lasting, although the cold is usually strongest in harsh easterly winds.
Strong mountain winds occur in the mountainous regions, especially during the autumn (October and November). In the Tatra Mountains, where these strong winds are called halny, they can cause sudden devastation in the form of blown roofs and uprooted trees. In winter, the straw can trigger avalanches and fast snowmelt with strong water flows due to strong heating of the soil surface.
The rainfall is maximum during the summer (July and August) due to rain showers and thunderstorms. Much of the rainfall falls during the winter as snow and the ground is normally snow covered 40-70 days a year, but up to twice as long in the southern mountainous regions and in northwestern Poland. The annual rainfall amounts to 450–700 mm in the lowlands and 1,000–1,200 mm in the mountains.
Plant-and animal life
From a mountain range consisting of the Carpathians/ Beskids and the Sudets to the south, Poland slopes north towards the flat, sandy Baltic Sea coast to the north and a forest-dominated lowland area to the northeast. Rivers like Wisła and Oder place their special touch on landscape and nature. Large parts of Poland are cultivated and dominated by agriculture and forestry, but in part of a less intense nature, which makes room for many wild plants and animals.
In north-eastern Poland is one of Poland’s most popular tourist destinations, Masuria, which includes more than 2,000 lakes, among others. the great Mamry and ardniardwy. Here are typical bird species such as sea eagles, osprey, humpback swan, beard dipping, black tern and beard knife. Moose, wolf and lice are found in the large coniferous forests and beaver in the many lakes and streams. On the numerous bogs are cranberries a character growth.
To the south of Masuria lies the Biebrzański National Park – one of Europe’s most important wetland areas. National is Poland’s and protects comprising marshes and swamp forests along the river Biebrza with elk, beaver, wolves and a rich fågeliv consisting of crane, black stork and white stork, snipe, dunlin, Ruff, White-tern, beard tern, little gull, Corncrakes, white-backed woodpecker and the rare water singer, which here has its largest known population in the world. During the spring, Biebrza floods large parts of its valley and turns into an eldorado for many moving waterfowl resident up to the Russian tundra, especially waders and ducks. The marshes and surrounding forests and agricultural fields create ideal conditions for a wide range of birds of prey with sea eagles, larger screaming eagles, smaller screaming eagles, snake eagles and meadow hawk as most renowned. In the nearby National Park Narwiański you will find a similar nature, though on a smaller scale.
Southeast of Biebrzański and Narwiański, on the border with Belarus, lies the Białowieżask forest. With its mighty trees of elm, lime, oak, deer, ash, book and pine, the area is considered to be one of the last remnants of primeval forest in the European lowlands. Whether this is true disputes they learned, but it is clear that trees have been here for a very long time, protected by the area set aside as hunting grounds by Polish kings and Russian tsars. In the area today there is the world’s largest wild-life strain of visent, the animal that may be most associated with Poland, but also moose, wolf, lion, beaver, red deer and many birds, such as small screaming eagle, snake eagle,dwarf, black stork, crane, pearl owl and sparrow, white-backed woodpecker, three-pointed woodpecker, collar flycatcher and smaller flycatcher. Because of its great natural values, the Białowież forest has been set aside as a national park and a world heritage site.
In the southeastern corner of Poland and the border areas of Ukraine and Slovakia are a long line of nature reserves of which the Bieszczadzki National Park, located in the Carpathians, is most famous. Since the end of the Second World War, when the region underwent rapid depopulation, a real wilderness with wolf, brown bear, lion, beaver, red deer, roe deer, wild boar and visage has been developed here, which is unparalleled in Poland. The upper parts of the San River, with its area of origin in the borderland between Bieszczadzki and Ukraine, are among the most original in Central Europe, and here you have among the best chances to experience many of the rarer mammals, especially during the hours of dawn and dusk.
Further west in the Carpathians is the Tatra Mountains – Poland’s only high alpine area and with the country’s highest mountain Rysy (2,499 m). Here you will find apollo butterfly, mountain poppy, mountain sip, edelweiss, gems, brown bear, lo, wolf, king eagle, masonry, alpine sparrow and alpine marmot, which with a small tribe of about 200 animals are among the country’s rarest and most endangered species.
The slopes of the Tatra mountains dominated by spruce, silver fir, beech and – rare – stone pine. There, northern bird species thrive, such as tar, three-pointed woodpecker, pearl owl and sparrow.
Western Poland and the border with Germany are characterized by the river Oder, Poland’s second largest river after Wisła. Before it reaches the Baltic Sea, there are a couple of highly interesting nature areas. One is Nedre Oderdalen’s international national park, where the river annually floods thousands of hectares of marshlands, gallery forests, meadows and pastures, for the benefit of nesting white and black stork, sea eagles, smaller scream eagles, osprey, barley grain, waterbirds, otters and beavers. Every year more 100,000 ducks and geese rest and 13,000 cranes.
The Oderlagunen – Zalew Szczeciński in Polish, Stettiner Haff in German – and its surroundings are also an interesting nature object, with no less than 27 different reserves on both sides of the border. One of the more famous is Wolin, Poland’s largest eastern National Park of the same name (Woliński) encompasses parts of the Baltic Sea with sandy beaches, coastal cliffs, forests with pine, oak and beech in more upland areas as well as pastures and sunbeds adjacent to the Oder lagoon. Within the park, species such as seal seals, gray seals, sea eagles, marsh snakes, waterbirds and smaller fly snatchers live. A reserve for visent has been set up and a couple of unique areas with old “primeval forests” of beech have been given special protection.
In Poland, there are five main forms of nature conservation: national parks (all larger than 1,000 ha), nature reserves, landscape parks, specially protected landscape regions and protected smaller areas (eg geological formations and scenic or ecologically valuable ecosystems). Agriculture and land use can be practiced to some extent in landscape parks and regions.
Poland has 23 national parks (2012) covering an area of 315,000 ha (see table). The 120 landscape parks comprise an area that is barely ten times larger. The nature reserves amount to just over 1,400, the countryside over 400 and the smaller areas more than 40,000. In total, 32% of Poland’s area is covered by some form of nature protection; 20% of the area is part of the Natura 2000 network.
||Wielkopolskie, Lubuskie, Zachodnio – Pomorskie