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Protection of nature

The park established in 1959. It spans over an area of 5,5 thousand hectares, stretching as a 25 –kilometre long strip of land along the Polish – Czech border from Kowary to Szklarska Poręba. Its foundation was dictated by a necessity to protect the elements of mountain natural environment which kept their original - similar to natural - character.
The main purpose was to create a possibility to restore nature to its original condition, even in places where human hand wreaked havoc. Human interference in the reservation protected area comes down to carrying out sanitary treatment and redevelopment of tree stands, in the aim of erasing the tracks of former, improper forest economy.
A limited amount of tourist devices, which have been installed, are designed to enable people to have a direct contact with nature and at the same time taking into consideration its greatest possible respect for it and its protection.
The most precious elements of the Karkonosze National Park are under the reservation protection. These are mainly areas situated above the upper tree line. The park’s natural and tourist attractions appeal to numerous visitors. Maintaining these values, respecting nature, its beauty and majesty depend on tourists good manners, their understanding and willingness to obey rules of tourism as well as KPN regulations.
The Karkonosze mountains were formed at the time of caledonian orogenic moves, i.e. about 450 million years ago. They are built of very
diversified rocks in terms of their forming and age. In these mountains we can find mainly granites and accompanying rocks. The highly situated plateau areas, northern mountain slopes and Jelenia Góra valley are built of granites. On Śnieżka and to the north-east there are not many considerably older rocks, i.e. precambrian, which provide casing for the warysycyjski granite. The Karkonosze granite divides into a few characteristic variants, out of which two appear in the territories of the Karkonosze National Park: an average- and equal-grainy granite as well as an average- and coarsely-grainy granite. There are also gneisses and crystalline schists in smaller amounts. The only basalt vein can be found in Śnieżne Kotły (The Snow Pots). The postglacial pots in Karkonosze owe their harsh alpine shape to the movements of local mountain glaciers. All of the island mountains (monadnoks, inselbergs) in Karkonosze are natural features of historic importance.
The exhibited rocks come from the western Sudety area.
The flora of Karkonosze, its existing conditions and history, are closely related the habitat which was formed during very long geological periods. The formation of plant habitats was influenced by landform features, their shape, geological structure and individual types of rocks, out of which waste and soil were formed, as a result of growing flora. Water conditions were also important: rainfall levels, ways of rainfall accumulation in the rocks. The worldwide prohibition of gathering plants in national parks and nature reserves, as well as the rules of plant species protection remain valid also in this park. Among all the plants growing in Sudety there are some under complete protection: the lycopodium (club-mosses), yew-trees, dwarf mountain pine, aconites, alpine pasque-flower, anemone, ciliate gentian, arnica (mountain tobacco) and orchids.
Moreover, some plants are under partial protection: the green hellebore and gentian.
All flora growing in the wild should be left unspoilt for other people to admire. It is worth noticing that an appropriate attitude towards plants and nature in general gives testimony to one’s good manners.
A characteristic feature of the Karkonosze fauna is the richness of mountain different origin. Some part of them came here during the Ice Age and survived to our times thanks to the favourable environment conditions. Most of the animals are similar to those who live in the whole area of Central Europe, mainly in the mountains, but also found in lowlands. On account of the fact that majority of the park’s area is populated with coniferous (spruce) forests, different bird species living in this environment are the most commonly met. These are among others: chaffinches, goldcrests (reguluses), robins, titmice, black woodpeckers, green-grey woodpeckers and kestrels.
Karkonosze mammals include: red deers, roe-deers, moufflons, martens, foxes, badgers, ermines, voles, squirrels and hedgehogs.
A typical feature of the flora in Karkonosze is its differentiation depending on climatic conditions at different heights. The following strata of flora are represented in the area of the Karkonosze National Park:
lower subalpine forest 500 – 1000 metres above sea level
upper subalpine forest 1000 – 1250 metres above sea level
subalpine stage (dwarf mountain pine) 1250 – 1450 metres above sea level
alpine stage 1450 – 1603 metres above sea level
The higher the given area is raised above sea level, the lower the average annual temperature and the higher the average rainfall level are.
The annual rainfall level in Karkonosze fluctuates between 900 mm to over 1400 mm.
First mountain guiding course, which was finished with an exam, took place in 1947 and 30 trainee guides completed it then. Afterwards they were guiding tourists from different parts of Poland.
Tadeusz Steć (1925-1993), a tutor for numerous guides, an author of many sightseeing studies and guidebooks to Western Sudety, immensely contributed to the development of Polish mountain guiding in Sudety after the second World War. A sightseeing monograph ‘Karkonosze' (ed. 1954 and 1962) written with W. Walczak and guidebook ‘Western Sudety’ (ed. 1965) were his most important works. T. Steć was also an author of texts accompanying many tourist maps of Karkonosze, Isere, Kaczawskie and Wałbrzyskie Mountains. He is remembered in the history of Sudety guiding as the ‘guides guide’ who was sharing his vast knowledge in a masterly way.
Koło Przewodników Sudeckich (Sudety Guides Association) with its headquarters in Jelenia Góra was established in 1953. Its rules state: ‘Guides Association is a form of a guide council, whose members carry out their basic tasks in a range of programme hike services, they undergo trainings and improve their professional qualifications, initiate and carry out social tasks in tourism’.
Currently there are 230 guides in Koło Przewodników Sudeckich (the Sudety Guides Association) in Jelenia Góra, including approximately 60 permanent guides. This association is considered one of the best nationwide.
First attempts at organising mountain rescue were made by the members of Jelenia Góra department of Polish Tourist Association at the turn of 1946 and 1947.
Completing Zarząd Główny Polskiego Towarzystwa Turystyczno-Krajoznawczego (the Main Board Polish Tourist Association) resolution of 15th September 1952, a mountain rescue section was established in Sudety with its headquarters in Jelenia Góra. First mountain rescue course was organised between 10th and 14th December 1952. It took place in ‘Samotnia’ shelter. According to sources, there were 17 guide candidates who participated in it: Marian Biskupski, Roman Brodacki, Janusz Gruszewski, Stanisław Januszko, Mieczysław Kłapa, Jerzy Królak, Wiesław Marcinkowski, Stanisław Misior, Tadeusz Mucha, Franciszek Niepsuj, Zbigniew Skoczylas, Bronisław Staroń, Stanisław Staroń, Tadeusz Steć, Zbigniew Pawłowski, Bogdan Piotrowicz and Mieczysław Radoń.
The Sudety Voluntary Mountain Rescue founding meeting took place on 14th December 1952, during which board was elected – it included: Tadeusz Steć (the chairman), Wiesław Marcinkowski, Stanisław Misior, Roman Brodacki and Tadeusz Mucha.

· First Sudety Voluntary Mountain Rescue base was situated in PTTK hostel’s porch in Jelenia Góra
· First rescue operation was carried out on 26th December 1952; Wiesław Marcinkowski and Stanisław Misior transported an injured skier from the Biały Jar (The White Ravine) hillside
· Wiesław Marcinkowski and Tadeusz Mucha were the first part-time guides. They were on duty in ‘Samotnia’ and ‘Hala Szrenicka’ shelters in winter 1952/1953.
The next mountain rescue course was organised in ‘Hala Szrenicka’ in May 1954. As a result, the circle of guides expanded. First professional guides were: Tomasz Gorayski, Stanisław Kieżuń, Wiesław Marcinkowski, Tadeusz Mucha and Waldemar Siemaszko.
The group received their first ambulance in 1956. This army surplus Dodge was in a bad technical condition and it had to be withdrawn from use right after. Their first off-road car was GAZ-69. At present the group has three off-road cars, four snow scooters and Honda TRX vehicles.
In 1967 Sudety Group organised an exhibition depicting its history and achievements in mountain rescue on its 15th anniversary.
In March 1968 a great tragedy took place in the Polish mountains. An avalanche’s descent in Biały Jar (The White Ravine) carried away
a group of tourists from the Soviet Union and NRD. 19 people lost their lives. The rescue was organised by Sudety Voluntary Mountain Rescue lifeguards, WOP soldiers and Horska Służba lifeguards. Additionally, rescue dogs turned out to be helpful in the proceedings. Stanisław Kieżuń, governor at that time, supervised the whole operation.
An administrative reform in Poland divided the Sudety Voluntary Mountain Rescue into two groups: Karkonosze and Wałbrzych-Kłodzko. This happened in 1976, during the Guide Day celebration at the Książ Castle near Wałbrzych, with the GOPR chief Jan Komornicki participating.
Ryszard Jaśko was appointed the leader of the GOPR Karkonosze Group and Stanisław Ządek was appointed the leader of the GOPR Wałbrzych-Kłodzko Group.
The grand opening of GOPR central station in Jelenia Góra was held in September 1978.
Rescue operations involve many people as well as very expensive specialist equipment. Proper rescue demands high qualifications from our crew which they develop during numerous trainings. We also widen our experience by participating in lectures, mountain rescue demonstrations and supporting many publications.
In the 50 years of our existence there were 534 guides in the Group.
Lifeguards worked voluntarily for 814.687 hours.
There were 31.369 operations undertaken in years 1952 – 2001, including:
- 9 220 rescue operations
- 1 075 rescue expeditions
- 7 rescue expeditions with a helicopter
There were 96 fatalities in total.
Now GOPR Karkonosze Group consists of five operating sections in Jelenia Góra, Lubawka, Karpacz, Szklarska Poręba and Świeradów Zdrój.
Lifeguards work in six all-year rescue stations and five temporary ones.
The area of Group’s activity covers 3025 km2 in Western Sudety.
In 2002 GOPR Karkonosze Group consisted of:
144 voluntary guides
18 guide candidates
9 professional guides