PRE-1. Landscape mosaic of Ponidzie Region

This excursion will explore the landscapes of the southern Poland, called Ponidzie Pinczowskie (Ponidzie Region) and will focus on the contemporary landscape mosaics and results of land use change that have occurred in this area from the Neolithic period to the present day.

This region is located on Polish Upland within Nida River Basin and surrounding hills, and covers a relatively small area of 4.7 thousand square kilometers. It shows great geological and geomorphological diversity, which corresponds to variety of adjoining landscape types – alluvial, loess, limestone, gypsum, sandy-clay and polygenetic. It is a typical agricultural region with a great richness of semi-natural habitats, a traditional rural character, and a thousands-year old tradition of tillage. There are many archeological sites and evidences of stable settlements represented among others by the Neolithic Funnel Beaker Culture. The colluvial deposits from soil erosion in the vicinity of Mozgawa, Zawarża or Pełczyska were radiocarbon dated for some 6000 years BP. Their thickness exceeds locally 10 m.

The area is girded by a valley of meandering Nida River and accompanying peatlands. The presence of small caves, quarries and xerothermic grasslands with the species typical for steppe plant communities are the distinguishing features of gypsum landscapes. Fertile soils – calcisols (redzinas) were developed on weathered limestones. The same rocks were also used in this region for construction of houses, chapels and numerous monuments depicting saints. The last ones are still very common next to the local roads or field paths. On the loess deposits, fertile chernozems and cambisols were developed. As these soils are in constant agricultural use, contemporary morphometric processes occur frequently. Their intensity can be perceived in the network of gullies developed especially on steeper slopes.