A huge fire in one of the most valuable national parks in Europe

24 april 2020  ·  Łukasz Ławicki

The Biebrza National Park is the largest national park in Poland and one of the most important bird areas in Europe. It encompasses a river valley, and has rushes, wet meadows, alluvial forests and bog woodlands, also xerothermophilous formations on valley slopes and bog-associated dunes. The park is not only important for bird species associated with alluvial habitats and bogs but for boreal species as well, and it is an important concentration area for waterbirds during the spring migration. Many birders will know Biebrza National Park for the most important breeding site in the European Union of endangered species like Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola (c 2600 males), Great Snipe Gallinago media (c 190-220 males) and Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga (12-20 pairs). Also, it is of importance for, eg, Black Stork Ciconia nigra (c 25 pairs), White Stork Ciconia ciconia (300-400 pairs), White-tailed Eagle Haliaeetus albicilla (12-13 pairs), Lesser Spotted Eagle Clanga pomarina (c 35 pairs), Spotted Crake Porzana porzana (300-1500 males), Little Crake Zapornia parva (30-80 males), Corn Crake Crex crex (c 700 males), Common Crane Grus grus (c 600 pairs), Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybrida (up to 900 pairs), Eurasian Eagle-Owl Bubo bubo (c 35 pairs) and White-backed Woodpecker Dendrocopos leucotos (c 100 pairs).

The largest population of vulnerable Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola in the European Union occurs in the Biebrza National Park (Zbigniew Kajzer/

The Biebrza National Park holds the entire Polish population of Greater Spotted Eagle Clanga clanga (Zbigniew Kajzer/

Since several days, the peat bogs of the park have been burning. The fire spread to approximately as many as c 6,000 (!) hectares (update on 23 April). Over 200 firefighters try to extinguish the fire, which is burning at several sites, maybe a dozen or so, and sometimes spreading at a speed of 20-30 km per hour. The area is very difficult to reach, and that's why firefighters get about in quadsor on foot, not being able to carry heavy equipment. Officials assume that the fire was caused by locals burning grass. According to the fire brigade, the peatbogs can burn for several months, and already now they found charred remains of young Elks, Roe Deers and many birds.

The director of the national park is requesting for financial support to maintain the fight against the fire. Funds and donations are needed and will be used for the purchase of firefighting equipment, such as:

- manual fire extinguishing suppressers
- portablefire pumps that can be moved to inaccessible areas;
- travel costs for fire fighters.

Donation Info: Biebrza National Park Special Account, Title of Payment: Donation - Fire 2020, Swift: GOSKPLPW, IBAN: PL 31 1130 1059 0017 3397 2620 0016. Many thanks in advance!

Within a few days, as many as about 25,000 people have already donated about 500,000 euros.

News, photos and videos about the current situation on the Biebrza National Park can be found at:ński-Park-Narodowy-395662660519750/

Biebrza National Park in fire... (Michał Polakowski / Institute of Biology, University of Szczecin)

Łukasz Ławicki