Kraków-Częstochowa Jura - Nature in Jura

Update date: 5 November 2013
Nature in Jura

For centuries, Jura remained an area of intense human activity. Forests were cut down not only for settlements developing from the Middle Ages, but also for the needs of mining in Olkusz, Nowa Góra, Chrzanów and Zawiercie. Limestone and other rocks were intensely obtained, and rapid brooks provided power to mills, fulling, gunpowder and paper mills, finery forges and many other workplaces.
In 19th century, the expansion of industry, especially mining and metallurgical industries, with simultaneous intensification of logging methods, resulted not only in further depletion of forests, but also in irreversible changes in the species composition of forests. These were the reduction of the share of native species: beech, fir, sycamore, elm, and consequently the decline in the number of species of flora and fauna. Also the land reclamation and drainage, used until recently, resulted in the steppization and encroaching of common species. In the first half of 20th c., pollution (mainly with sulfur dioxide) caused by the heavy industry in the agglomeration of Częstochowa, Kraków and Silesia, created a significant threat to the environment of the Upland.
The need to protect the nature of Jura has been recognized alongside the development of scientific research, mainly envinronmental, as early as in the beginning of the 19th c. In time, the landscape of Jura and its uniqueness became the subject of interest amonge wider public. Numerous press publications were conducive to it, as well as the development of tourism. In Ojców, Jan Zawisza, who acquired it in 1878, began the gradual redemption of the surrounding areas, in this way protecting the forests of Prądnik Valley from predatory logging practiced by the previous owners, as well as caves, whose alluvial deposits used to be obtained for fertilizers.

The work of Zawisza was continued by Ludwik Krasiński, and then his daughter Ludwika Czartoryska. Similarly, Karol Raczyński, heir to Złoty Potok, stopped felling in the forests of Wiercica Valley in 1907, then in 1920's introduced further protective restrictions with a separted reserve area. At the end of 19th c. , the first social initiative to rescue the natural and cultural values of Prądnik Valley came to being. Thanks to the writer Adolf Dygasińskiemu, tireless singer of the beauty of Ojców Valley, a stock company was founded which bought the castle in Pieskowa Skała together with the surrounding forest and rocks (→ castles).
Nevertheless, only after the war the introduction of legal solutions made it possible for actual and rational preservation measures to be taken. They were, however, limited to a specific area (national park, nature reserves) which proved to be insufficient against the advancing processes of urbanization and industrialization. A comprehensive protection of Jura became a necessity, in practice implemented only since the 1980's by the establishment of landscape parks on its territory.