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The Magura National Park

The Magura National Park is situated at the heart of the Beskid Niski and covers the source area of the Wisłoka river and the Magura Wątkowska range. It was established to protect the unique transitional area between the Eastern and Western Carpathians. Its area is 19 439 hectares, 89.7% of which is in the Podkarpackie voivodeship, and the rest in the Małopolskie voivodeship.

The landscape of the park is characteristic for the entire Beskid Niski, with low and medium-height mountains. Its most interesting geological features are the Diabli Kamień monument of nature and the Kornuty Nature Reserve. The main part of the Park is the ridge of Magura Wątkowska, with its highest point at Wątkowa (846 metres above sea level), whose eastern part is formed by individual ridges separated by spring valleys and passes. In the southern part of the park, there are some longer mountain ranges, the most prominent of which include the mountains Nad Tysowym (713 metres above sea level), Czerszla Mountain (734 metres above sea level) and Baranie (728 metres above sea level). The area of the park includes the source area of the Wisłok river, which, together with its many tributaries, creates there picturesque valleys and river bends.

As much as 95% of the park is covered by forests, while the remaining area is meadows and pastures. You can see there wonderfully preserved beech and fir forests, which evoke admiration with the size of the trees and their perfect condition. There are two distinct belts of flora in the park. In the foothills, there are fragments of broadleaved forests, Carpathian and marshy alder groves, as well as wetlands rich in many species of plants. In the open areas at this level, there are meadows that are regularly scythed, pastures, wet meadows and peat bogs. In the higher belt, the dominating type of flora is the Carpathian beech forest, with some sycamore stands and stretches of beech forest characteristic for acid soils. Out of the around 850 species of vascular plants that can be found in the entire Beskid Niski, 771 can be found in the park, which, together with the fact that there are as many as 75 species of protected plants, is a testament to the great richness of the flora of the park. A floristic curiosity of the park are the large stretches of orchids.

Being largely covered by forests, the park is home to as many as 57 species of mammals, including bears, wolves, badgers, lynxes and wild cats. You can also find there the oldest sanctuary of elk in Poland. There are beavers there, too, successfully introduced in the 1980s. Moreover, the park is a habitat for 160 species of birds, including many rare and protected ones, such as the golden eagle, boreal owl, Eurasian pygmy owl and the Ural owl, whose population in the park is among those of the highest density in the country, and probably also in Europe. Over thirty pairs of the lesser spotted eagle have their nests in the park, making it an area with one of the highest densities of population of this species in Poland. It is also worth noting that the population of the buzzard in the park is one of the largest in Europe.

fot.: M. Sanocka