MID-4. Kampinoski National Park and its surroundings – natural and cultural heritage of central Mazovian Region

This excursion will explore the natural and cultural heritage of Kampinoski National Park and its surroundings. The park, established in 1959, is situated in the central part of Mazowiecka Lowland, between the left Vistula River bank and Bzura River, next to the northwestern borders of Warsaw City. This area was shaped in the post-glacial period, mainly by waters coming from a glacier, and afterwards river flows and wind. That is why there are two latitudinal belts of sand dunes, which are surrounded by marshes. Among the dunes complexes there are also humid depressions, in the marshy areas there are sandy hills and small dunes.

Due to a significant diversity of habitats (from wet to very dry), there are over fifty plant communities with more than 1400 vascular plant species. Among them we can find relict species and others that are characteristic for various geographical zones, such as Chamaedaphne calyculata, Linnaea borealis and Scorzonera purpurea. The main forest-forming species is pine Pinus sylvestris, which covers 70% of the forest area, followed by alder Alnus glutinosa, oak Quercus robur and birch Betula pendula. Forest covers almost three-quarters of the park area; the rest is formed of various types of non-forest communities. In the past, wetlands were deforested, drained and turned into meadows and pastures. Nowadays, the conducted restoration projects are to put their natural hydrological conditions back. Moreover, there are many monitoring and research projects in the park e.g. monitoring of animal species (e.g. bats, beaver, raptors).

The role of Kampinoski National Park is to protect not only plant and animal species, but also traditional agricultural landscape of Central Mazovia, as well as cultural heritage of the region. In the past, the Kampinos forest was the site of many warfare conflicts, uprisings and battles. Cemeteries and graves remind of those events. There are also many architectural monuments in the park and its vicinity; the most famous are connected with composer Fryderyk Chopin (i.e. manor house in ŻelazowaWola).