THE HISTORY OF THE PARK
The first attempts to protect Lake Wigry and its surroundings date back to 1921, when prof. Kazimierz Kulwieć presented issues concerning the unique values
of this area on the forum of the State Commission of Nature Protection. In 1924, the botanist Bolesław Hryniewiecki and the limnologist Alfred Lityński
developed a project of an establishment of a Wigry reserve. The reserve had to cover the lake and a 1 meter wide forest strip around the lake.
Unfortunately, this project had never been realised.
The first protected area was established in 1931. It was a landscape and floristic partial reserve named “Wigry”, with an area of 500 hectares. The reserve
covered Lake Białe Wigierskie and a part of the Wysoki Węgieł Peninsula. In 1932, State Forest authorities advised “to preserve the current character of
natural landscape and to subject management measures to aesthetic demands”.
Another two partial reserves had been designated in order to protect beavers. The former, named “Ostoja Bobrów Stary Folwark” (Stary Folwark Beavers’
Refuge), was created in 1959 and it covered a fragment of the Czarna Hańcza Valley and Lake Wigry, whereas the latter, named “Ostoja Bobrów Zakąty” (Zakąty
Beavers’ Refuge), was established in 1962 and it covered an area around Lake Klonek. The first reserve ensuring strict protection was an area surrounding
Lake Wądołek and a fragment of an adjacent forest. The small (1 hectare), but 15 metres deep lake with floating islets was submitted to protection in 1970.
In 1975, the unique value of Lake Wigry was appreciated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which placed Lake Wigry on its list of
the most valuable water reservoirs in the world (Project "Aqua").
The efforts of many scientific and social groups aiming at the protection of Lake Wigry and its surroundings were crowned by the designation of Wigry
Landscape Park in 1976. The park covered an area of nearly 11, 000 hectares, whereas its protection zone encompassed an area close on 2, 800 hectares.
Forests and waters continued to be exploited with simultaneous care for the unique landscape and cultural values. An important protection tool became a
land management plan which was devised and approved in 1980.
An important step towards strengthening nature protection in the area of Wigry Landscape Park was establishing in 1985 ten strict reserves with a total
area of 358.85 hectares. Shortly after WLP was established, work aiming at designation of a national park commenced. This idea received support during
eminent artists’ and scientists’ annual meetings, called “Kultura i Środowisko” (Culture and Environment).
In 1976, the provincial governor of the Suwałki Province put forward a proposal to the Ministry of Environment to establish Wigry National Park.
Negotiations at the highest government level took nearly three years. At this time, State Forests established the Wigry Park Forest Inspectorate based in
Krzywe, while the Forestry Research Institute organized there its experimental station. This scientific centre had functioned also after the establishment
of the Park, i.e. until 1993.
In June 1988, the government made a decision to designate Wigry National Park with an area of 14,840 hectares. The Park began its activity on 1 January
1989. In 1997, the amendment of the government decree resulted in the increase of the Park’s area to 15,085 hectares. Of this area, the forests constitute
approximately 63%, the waters – 19%, the farm lands – 15%, and other lands – 3%. The Park realizes its goals in accordance with the register of protective
duties which is annually approved by the Minister of Environment.
WNP is an important link in the system of nature protection in Poland, in Europe and in the world. In 2002, Wigry National Park was designated as a wetland
of international importance on the strength of the Ramsar Convention. In 2004, alongside the whole Augustów Primeval Forest, it became a part of the Natura
2000 network as a special protection area for birds. Wigry Mainstay also belongs to the Natura 2000 networking programme as a special area of conservation.