– This is a real cataclysm, after which nature will take many years to regain its balance – said Prof. on Thursday. Jan Taylor from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Białystok, referring to the fire ongoing in the Biebrza National Park.
The fire takes place in the so-called central basin of the Biebrza National Park and lasts – with breaks – for the fourth day. According to recent estimates, it covers approx. 6 thousand. ha of protected areas. According to prof. Jan Taylor from the Faculty of Biology of the University of Białystok, the fire is catastrophic because it covered a very large area of the central Biebrza basin.
– I don’t think there has ever been a fire like this on the Biebrza River. I think that these losses will be completely irreparable also because we now have the most important season of the year – the breeding season of birds and other animals. – said prof. Taylor quoted in a statement sent to PAP by the university’s spokeswoman. He added that this is the period when young moose, roe deer and deer are born. – This is a huge cataclysm and nature will certainly return to its pre-fire state for many years after it. In some places these changes may be irreversible – he emphasized.
The scientist gives an example of one of the pact species – the aquatic warbler. – This is a tiny songbird, a globally endangered species. A large part of the world’s population lives on the Biebrza River, which is why the Aquatic Warbler is, next to the ruff, the flagship species of this area. Fortunately, most of the Aquatic Warbler nests in the southern basin, in the Ławki swamp, but some also in the fire area. I think that in the middle Biebrza basin this season is simply wasted for many birds – he said.
According to the professor, it is now difficult to say from satellite maps of the fire areas available on the Internet which specific habitats are destroyed or threatened. – However, it is certain that not only peat bogs are burning, but also very important forest ecosystems: oak-hornbeam forests, valuable alder forests. When it comes to plants, there is, for example, one of the very few stands of leafless iris in Poland. We hope that it will survive – expressed hope of prof. Taylor.
The scientist estimates that the fire damaged the low birch tree, as well as molinian meadows, which are a very valuable habitat protected under the Natura 2000 program. The professor informed that researchers will analyze the changes caused by the fire. – It will be interesting to observe how individual habitats change after a fire. This may help understand certain natural mechanisms and predict the consequences of fires in such ecosystems. It is already known for sure, among others: from the accounts of witnesses of the cataclysm, about moose fleeing from the fire – he says.
Prof. Taylor also points out that fire-induced animal migrations may pose a traffic problem and require additional precautions. – It is certainly worth paying attention to this problem now. Because the area around Osowiec and slightly west of it is a sensitive place: the road leading to Grajewo is very often crossed by elks there. I imagine that this phenomenon may become more intense now. They mainly migrate in early spring and autumn, but now the fire may cause this species to move on a larger scale. I think that at this point you should pay special attention to animals crossing the road – the scientist pointed out.
The scientist fears that the fire may also occur in other parts of the Park, because the entire area is very dry, including the peat bogs. This is due to a snowless winter and lack of rainfall. This is compounded by the cumulative effect of very dry and warm recent summer seasons.