GLOSSARY
Poland glossary

Leszek

(POLAND 45)

Sex

male

Age

45

Occupation

forester

Location

Bardo

Date

August 1999

 

transcript

Section 1
Could you, please, introduce yourself?
My name is Leszek Klosowski, but ever since I was a child everybody called me Jacek.

How long have you been working for the Bardo Forestry Office?
Here, in Bardo Ė for 10 years now. The conditions that they offered me then were very attractive, which Ė among others Ė made me stay here. Cause I donít originally come from here. I studied forestry at the Academy of Agriculture in Krakow. I could have looked for a job elsewhere - 10 years ago it was not difficult to get a job, especially in forestry - but this neighbourhood enchanted me. I come from Krakow. My father was a forester, and the love for the forest and the natural environment was probably taken from him. It was also with him that I used to come to Bardo as a child, and I got to remember the town. Well, thatís where I now live and work. The Forestry Office is where my wife works as well, and she loves the forest too. Well, I hope she does, itís not just make-belief for my sake [smiles].

How would you characterise the Bardzkie Mountains?
This area is really very specific. This is not a flat land. Thereís lots of bumps, so to speak, you have to climb up and down all the time. But itís going up or down all the time that makes you tougher. The trees are diverse too. We are proud of our deciduous forests, for if you go further towards Bystrzyca Klodzka, Miedzygůrze, there are only coniferous ones. Naturally, there are some conifers in ours as well Ė the spruce, the fir, the larch and of course there is the yew, of which there is a sanctuary in Bardo. Some of the specimens there are 200, 250 years old, so they are really ancient. They are unique on a European scale.

Are there any differences as far as the characteristics of the terrain go, in a radius of say, 50-60 kilometres?
Yes. For example, the neighbourhood of Miedzygůrze is a bit different in character. The mountains there are slightly higher, so they have different plants growing there. But above all, as I said those places have coniferous forests Ė we have both.

You said you used to come to Bardo as a child. Has anything changed since then?
A bit, certainly. First of all, the forests were cleaner, more looked after, though I must say the situation is improving gradually. But these forests were healthier several years ago.
Section 2
Is this true that you can come across mouflon (rare breed of mountain sheep) around here?
By all means, yes. We are breeding this species. It used to be a closed breed, now itís open. However, we do have to select the healthy specimens. You can see by its appearance, the way it moves, the way its horns look, if itís healthy or not. Those horns often swirl in the wrong way, they grow back into the body making the animal suffer a lot and often die. The way we keep those animals is a bit unnatural, we get the healthiest to mate. If need be, we import the best specimens for mating from the Czech Republic. We feed them, look after them and they seem to feel alright. They live not far from the yew sanctuaries, so they have chosen a very interesting place to live. We are proud of those mouflons, we certainly have many more of them than Miedzygůrze, for example. We know, more or less, how many they are Ė despite the fact that they move freely from one forestry region to another. Personally, I canít tell you how many exactly, but the foresters in charge of them know precisely how many specimens they have under their responsibility.

So, while walking through the forest, you can come across a mouflon...
Very much so. It is an animal that is not difficult to find. At the moment, in the summer season, they stay rather high in the mountains. But when they come down, you can judge by their behaviour when the winter is going to come.

What ailments do the Sudety forests suffer from, especially the forests under your care?
Our most serious problem is the polypore fungus. Where does it come from? It appears on the trees that have been cut down, then the spores appear, they get sown, and Ė like any other fungus Ė they infect other trees. This can lead to the trees dying. Itís alright now weíve got methods of fighting it, there are the various anti-fungus preparations. After a tree is cut down, you put the preparation on them, and the epidemic is stopped. Those preparations are expensive, so in the past we could not always afford them and so we lost a lot of trees. Nowadays, the financial situation of the forestry office in Bardo is much better, so we can take effective measures against such problems.

I know that you ran a nursery of young trees for many years. Can you tell me something about it?
You could say I was the one who founded the nursery. Now itís been taken over by my younger colleagues. I now look after different matters. In a nursery, the point is to gather seeds from the strongest and the healthiest forest, so that the young trees are the strongest possible. I always claim that the best material grows in the forest Ė what has sown itself, so to say, what grows under the trees is best.

Did the flood affect the forests in any way?
It did. It affected the forest very negatively. We lost a lot of newly cultivated areas: weíd inherited them from the farmers, and we tried to cover them with trees. Quite simply, some time ago farming turned out to be unprofitable around here, so we bought quite a substantial area of farm land in order to grow new forests. Unfortunately, the flood destroyed everything. You know, these are mountains, water will not stand still around here, and the mountains themselves were not able to cope with the vast masses of water that came. The ground soaked up as much as it possibly could, but the vast majority of water just caused loss. In the forest as such, the damage was not that serious. Naturally, some tress were uprooted, especially those with shallow root systems.
Section 3
Do you remember any other natural phenomena that have adversely influenced the condition of the forest?
Yes, I remember there once was a very cold winter. Trees would freeze and crack from the cold. The forest suffered a lot then, too. But in my opinion, the worst calamity is the mushroom-picking parties. In general, mushroom picking should be banned, though I must say, I like mushrooms myself, but Iím sure I could do without them in my diet. The mushroom pickers cause a lot of damage in the forest. Trees grow better thanks to the mushrooms, they develop better thanks to the mushroom spawn. Picking a mushroom in the wrong way Ė which happens most often Ė brings about dying out of the entire spawn (mycelium). As a result, the forest gets impoverished.

And how about blueberry picking?
Well, we donít have so much of them, so this does not seem to be a problem. Blueberries grow in coniferous forests mainly, not in leafy ones. As we have mainly leafy trees around, we donít have so many blueberries.

Why did you choose to become a forester, is this because your father had been working in the forest all his life?
My father never tried to persuade me to become a forester. Nor did he try to dissuade me. Yeah, I must have got the bug from him, from my early days he would take me to the mountains, to the forests. But it was not only my father who worked in the forests. So did my grandfather Ė practically all his life.

Do you remember any scary Ė or funny Ė story that happened to you in the forest?
Yes, a rather funny one. Luckily, nothing scary has ever happened to me. The other day I was walking across the forest and I saw a car parked there. Naturally, you mustnít get into a forest in a car, so I decided to admonish the driver. He got scared and started explaining to me that he didnít know, that it would never happen again, that he was very sorry. He was with a woman, so I joked how he could do that, bring a lass for himself and nothing for the forester. He was scared and probably did not get the joke. I told him to leave, and so he did. About a week later, the same guy came right to my house and shouted, ďHey, Mr Forester! This time I thought about you as well and I brought two girls along.Ē I was lucky my wife wasnít around. I told them to leave immediately. Yeah, that was the kind of story I remember. Funny thing, Iíd already forgotten about him, but he did remember. And this time not only about himself.

Have you ever come across an animal that you didnít know what species it was?
No, I donít think so. I have never come across a strange crossing either. Most often it would be beautiful specimens of the mouflon or the roe-deer.
Section 4
What bird species can you come across around here?
We do not have any specific or endemic species. I am woken up by lark every morning. Donít know where this has come from. There are also woodpeckers and coal-tits. As far as interesting species go, we have the black stork. There are a few nests, a few specimens, but I will not tell you where they are. When I first arrived to work here, there were only two pairs. At the moment, they are many more. There are definitely four pairs, maybe more. Naturally, with the young, they breed here, and apparently like it here very much. I have seen those four pairs with my own eyes, so Iím sure they are here. They got to like this neighbourhood, so they come here every year.

What was the condition of the river immediately after the flood, was the contamination level higher than before?
A few days after the flood the river looked far from enchanting, but you could not see noticeable changes in the water itself.

What does the forest work give you personally?
First of all, satisfaction and relaxation. Itís never happened to me that I got up in the morning dreading the dayís work before me. I always get up eagerly because I like my work, I like walking the forest, watching the wildlife. I could not kill them, so I never decided to become a hunter. I simply could not look at the death of the lovely creatures. Besides, I have seen a wounded roe-deer cry. Itís a very unnerving experience. That was what stopped me from hunting in the first place. Besides, weíve got a friendly roe-deer that comes to our garden almost every day. It must have got used to us for it never runs away. I mean, you could not approach it, but it comes close enough to us.

Apart from the roe-deer, what other common animals can you come across in the forests around here?
There are a lot of wild boars. But the wild boar is not that wild, it is not a dangerous animal. There is only one period [of danger] when the female is expecting the young, or directly after their birth. Then it could become a bit dangerous and could chase you, but it wonít do you any harm. The wild boar is not a demanding creature. It must have its own territory, but itís not demanding. They can be often found in the Pomerania region. They live in the dunes by the sea, which often is an attraction for the tourists. Some time ago I watched a documentary about wild boars approaching human settlements Ė some town or a village. It must have been the result of some disorientation in the femaleís head, for it was a female with several young, they never go to open spaces. They usually keep to the areas where there are no humans. They donít make long trips unless there are too many of them on a limited area. Then they will go in search for a better place to live.

What do you think, what will these mountains look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years from now?
Well, judging by the present situation and the outlook for the future, I think these areas will only prosper. Iím sure things will improve. I would like - I mean itís such a personal wish - peopleís awareness to grow a bit. So that everybody knew that these forests grow for them, that they and their children will profit from their development. Foresters I work with are devoted to their profession, so everyone does what they should, they have enough knowledge about it. They know how to keep the forest healthy. I donít think there are any dangers, anything that would threaten the development of the natural environment around here. On the contrary, I believe the situation is going to improve. Naturally, thereís always the odd person who doesnít understand it. With such a large group, itís only natural. Weíve had people like that before, but they always left the profession in time. They couldnít function in the team or they knew their behaviour was improper, so they left. Such people will never work too long in forestry.
Section 5
They say Bardo has got a very specific climate. Is that true? Could you characterise it properly?
Yes, itís true there is something specific in the mountain climate. Iím not an expert in that, so I canít say much. But you can observe it in the fog, for example. You leave Bardo in the direction of Debowina and Klodzko and, although there is a very thick fog in Bardo, it disappears before you reach Debowina - the air is clear. There are such micro-climatic places, one could say. This is the micro-climate. Itís present in the neighbourhood of Bardo and Debowina. Itís difficult to talk about climatic changes or about a different climate.
Similarly, there are specific places in the forest itself. When you walk across the forest, you can find a place where, for example, ash trees grow, and it seems the ash tree could grow anywhere around here. But you find another place, where the forester would like to plant some ash, but it wonít grow there. Thereís something that does not suit the ash tree and it will not grow there. Full stop. It looks like the soil is the same, everything is the same, but the ash tree wonít grow.

Where does a man of the forest spend his holidays?
In the forest. I never go away, I never have a holiday. I can organise my free time in my forest so that I never get bored there. I donít feel like going to the seaside or elsewhere to the mountains. I like it here, and here is where I spend my holidays. And thatís all there is to it.

What is your opinion about punishing industrial enterprises for not having sewage treatment plants?
The penalties should be much higher, so that they could lead to the companyís bankruptcy. I think that would be more effective. Ridiculous is the situation in which companies prefer paying penalties to building sewage treatment plants and solving the problem once and for all. The lack of sewage systems in households and farms is also a threat for the forests and rivers. The waste eventually ends up in the environment.

Do you think the sewage treatment plant in Bardo will be a positive solution?
My opinion about this particular sewage treatment plant is far from positive on the whole. For one thing, it has been under construction for several years now, and God only knows how much longer itís going to take; for another, its location just doesnít make sense. I donít think even the Bardo authorities know when itís going to be completed and start functioning. Go to the District Office and ask them when the plant is going to start. Iím sure they will not be able to answer that question.
Section 6
You mentioned the plantís location. What is wrong about that?
There will still be an environmental threat from the households because the plant is being constructed only for a part of the town. What good will it be if only half the town will benefit from it? The other half will be still polluting the river and the forests. I canít see the reasoning behind the authoritiesí decision to construct this plant. Naturally, there is no point in discontinuing the construction work. After all, a lot has already been done, but I think they should have thought about building a plant for the entire town. Anyway, the rural households will continue polluting the environment. If you go to the Nysa Klodzka when the water level is relatively low and sniff the river, then you will know what condition it really is in. From my own experience I know that the smell is far from pleasant, even around here.

Do the Bardo authorities make your life difficult, or do you cooperate smoothly?
I wouldnít say that they make our lives difficult, the way you put it. You know, we are two separate institutions, so they have no influence over our decisions. Similarly, we cannot influence theirs. I would say we co-habit the area and we tend to cooperate in order to keep the neighbourhood in the best possible condition, and have some profit as well.

For a few years now there has been a debate on the re-privatisation act. A part of it is the issue of private forests. What is your opinion about it? Do you think the governmentís proposals are a good solution?
I am definitely against this act. Well, maybe not in its entirety, for I think it is an important one. What Iím against is the forest bit. They are to be returned to the private owners. I donít think the whole business about privatisation or re-privatisation of the forests is a good idea at all. Giving the forests into private hands will be a very dangerous step in the direction of the forest degradation. Also the Ministry of Environment Protection is against the act. I mean, the bit regarding giving forests away as damages in kind. We are also against turning state forests into a public limited company whose shares would be distributed among the former owners. They say itís only up to five hectares of forest that are to be returned, but you never know with the powers that be. Luckily they donít even think about returning the forests which are now a part of the National Parks or natural sanctuaries. I think this kind of approach is rather dangerous. Iím sure that if the act is passed, it will bring about a threat to the forest stability. New owners or administrators will do what they will, and Iím sure they will not see to the forestsí natural needs. In most cases, these people will know nothing about the nature, the forestís needs. They will most probably look for profits, they will explore the forests, they will cut down trees, process wood, and the fragile natural balance will be threatened.

Do you think your Forestry Office will lose some of its forests for the new owners? If so, what could be their area?
Well, thatís something I cannot foretell. I simply hope the act will never be passed. Itís been disputed for so long, a few cabinets have already tried to deal with it, so hopefully they will not manage to complete it. However, should they manage, I canít really tell what proportion of the forests would go into private hands. Iím not an original inhabitant of Bardo, so I donít know the realities in this respect. To be quite honest, I donít know exactly the latest version of the act proposal, they change so often. As far as I know, the act is going to cover the grounds and realty taken away unlawfully from their owners by the State immediately after the war. Taking into account the fact that this region used to belong to Germany, I hope the problem will be settled for the benefit of the local Forestry Office, and thus for the benefit of the forests themselves. Wow, have I got that deep into the politics! To be quite honest, Iím not interested in politics, but this act concerns my profession, so I got a bit deeper into it, and here I am.
Section 7
How big is the Bardo Forestry Office compared to the neighbouring ones?
It is quite a large one. We have approximately 13,000 hectares at the moment. In terms of territory, it is quite a lot, one could say. As far as the span in kilometres goes, it is a slightly different matter Ė it will be about 56 kilometres. Territorially, we are similar to the Forestry in Bystrzyca Klodzka and Ladek Zdrůj. However, our land is scattered a bit among the farming land, so the span is rather big. This, in turn, makes us similar to the lowland forestries, where there is a lot of land scattered around a rather large area. Hectare-wise, we are no larger than our neighbours, I mean Bystrzyca Klodzka, Ladek or Henrykůw. We used to be one large unit with these three, but the administration was divided a few years ago. It is easier to administer smaller units, smaller areas - itís easier to look after them.

What do you do in order to preserve these areas in their natural condition?
Most attention is paid to preventing pollution and contamination.

In what way do you prevent it?
We have lodged a few complaints with the authorities concerning the delays in the construction of the sewage treatment plant. We suggested the construction of another one, or broadening the scope of the existing construction. We often mention these problems at the meetings with Council Members, the Mayor. Also the threats stemming from the lack of sewage [treatment?] in many households and farms. So far, to no avail. It is always the question of money, of which thereís always a shortage. Therefore, I donít think our pleas Ė and not only ours, the inhabitantsí as well Ė will be heard very soon.
Other than that, I donít think the situation is bad at all. Even the Bardo Paperworks have improved their actions. I mean ecology-wise. Iím not going to get into the marketing or financial matters of theirs, which I donít think are run properly. But the factory has its own waste treatment system, its own filters, and thatís an advantage. Another advantage is their producing recycled paper. Apart from that, we look into the matter of the forest cleanliness, we distribute waste paper bins in easily noticeable places. It may seem unimportant, but I think it is vital. We are trying to make them look nice and natural. I hope that thanks to them the tourists and pilgrims will contribute, if not to the improvement, at least to the preservation of the condition the forest is in at the moment. But above all, I must say there is no threat to the forest health. Naturally, thereís no end to the things one could do to improve the situation, but this is exactly what we are trying to Ė doing our best.

The Sudety Mountains are among the oldest in the country. How does their scenery, their appearance change?
Naturally, they crumble, but it is not a process you could notice with the naked eye. One generation, even a few generations, cannot notice that. I mean, you will not notice a rock getting smaller. On the other hand, the soil erosion, crumbling of individual rocks Ė they are noticeable, but they are natural processes. In order to preserve the condition of our mountains for as long as possible, we plant leafy trees around here. Their presence here is necessary. It is thanks to them that we can keep the balance. To preserve the soil, if nothing else.
Section 8
In the past there was a ski lift in Bardo, now itís gone. Would you be against plans to construct it again, in a modernised version?
There was such an idea. It was even discussed at the District Council meeting, but it fell through. Someone was trying to do it, but didnít know how to go about it. It must have been someone exceptionally thoughtless Ė they were trying to build that lift on the south-eastern slope, where there is practically no snow. I mean, if somebody tried to do it properly, made it blend with the landscape, I would have no objections. If they managed to find a proper place for it, and there are lots of places like that in Bardoís vicinity, I think it could be done without any problems at all, and the lift would have to adverse effect on the forest. Why not? Iím all for it. Sport is an important element of our lives, so nobody would object if there was a sensible project. By the way, talking about sport, at the moment we are working on a cycling route. Together with the District of Stoszowice. I mean, they do it, and we prepare the ground for that route. We also help them in tourism matters Ė information boards, tourist marks Ė such a touristic use of the area is a necessity nowadays.

Were you relieved when the project to organise Winter Olympics in Poland, namely in Zakopane, in the year 2006 fell through?
Was I relieved? I never was a supporter of that idea. Not only because of the natural environment. Naturally, that wouldnít be possible without adversely influencing the environment, but my objection was of a different nature. If you approach the problem properly, I am not against such ideas. But, if they are going to spend money, let them spend it on the protection of the forests, not on organising the Olympiad. In many countries, there have been Olympic Games, even in mountains higher than the Tatras, and the whole tourist infrastructure brought about a lot of benefits overall, even in forested areas. That was always very well thought of, and brought a lot of profit Ė the forest sort of earned its own living. And here? I donít think the time has come yet. I donít think Poland would manage organisationally, so the damage could be extensive. No, I donít think the time has come.

Are there any poachers in these forests? If so, what do they hunt?
I donít have much trouble with the poachers, to be quite honest, although my older colleagues or the hunters often complain about them. Poaching has a long tradition around here. However, we do not have cases of large-scale poaching around here. You know, [itís more] individuals hunting single specimens, like a wild boar. Thatís all. Our law is too loose and too imperfect on them, so the poachers can do what they like. The only cases when you can prove that someoneís been poaching is catching them red-handed or with a hunted animal. But even that is often not enough. The poacher may say heíd just found an animal and was carrying it to a hunter or the police. I donít think poaching is going to ever disappear.
Section 9
Is this true that the population of the hare is diminishing in our region?
Yes, thatís true. There are fewer of them than there used to be. But that is not because of poaching, hunting or improper forestry policies. This situation has been brought about by the extensive use of chemicals in the farming, thatís why there are fewer and fewer hares around. In this region the situation is not that bad, we do not have so much farming land. There are more forests. Recently I talked to some of my hunting friends and they said that the population is growing again. I think it was the pesticides in farming. Which would make sense, wouldnít it? In recent years, the situation has been most unfavourable for farmers. They had considerably less money for the chemicals, so the hare population started growing. However, I do not hunt, although I passed an exam way back when I was still a student, in Krakůw.

You grew up in much higher mountains than these. What made you decide to settle down here?
As I said before, I often came here with my father, and this neighbourhood has become closer to me that way. There was a moment that I was considering going to the Nowy Sacz area, but I liked this region much better.

Your wife works in the same field. Do you often talk ďforestĒ at home?
Surprisingly not. At work there are so many professional things that have to be discussed that we try not to bring them up at home. Unless we are having a walk in the forest, which we often do, just like walking the mountains. But thatís best done in the autumn. In the autumn, there are fewer tourists around, and I donít like crowds. Talking about walking the mountains, I think it should be in the best of interests of the town to build inexpensive tourist facilities in Bardo Ė something that does not exist. There are hotels, but they are far too expensive for many tourists, but thatís all that Bardo has to offer in this respect. Agro-tourism is non-existent too, and whatís worse, our authorities are not interested in developing it. I know there are lots of agro-tourist facilities around Bystrzyca. Pity itís not like that around here. Maybe one day.

Is there something you would like to say at the end of our conversation?
Donít think so. I only wish people took greater care about their environment. Thatís where everything really begins. If you take care of your own surroundings, you will do likewise about othersí. Though itís rather difficult to call the forests ďothersíĒ Ė they are everyoneís.

Thank you for the conversation.