Natural Reserves of Tatras Mountain

Date of Submission: 12/06/2002
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)(x)
Category: Natural
Submitted by:
Ministry of the Environment of the Slovak Republic
Ref.: 1737


The locality is demarcated with the territory of Tatras that have the attributes of the smallest high mountains (currently uncovered with ice) in Europe and also in the temperate geographic zone in the world, on the North Hemisphere. T atras are the part of Western Carpathians and they are situated on the territory of two states - the Slovak Republic and the Polish Republic. Concentration of glacial elements is a specific feature of the locality. The High Tatras are the highest mountains in the Western Carpathians with asymmetric structure. They are formed by a winding ridge with a system of lateral ridges and forked ridges, on which the highest peaks of the Tatras are situated - Gerlach (2,654 m a.s.l.) and Lomnicky peak (2. 629 m a.s.l.). In Pleistocene, the Tatras were several times covered with ice and the glaciation imprinted the present shape to these mountains on both sides of the state border by forming peaks, glacial valleys, cirques, amphitheatres; waterfalls and lakes (called ,ples6" in Slovakia and ,stawy" in Poland). According to moraines we can assume that there were 3 to 4 Pleistocene glaciations. However, just he moraines of the worm -period have the well-,preserved morphology. At that time, 21 separate (mostly extended) valley glaciers, 5 slope glaciers and 4 fim glaciers were formed. In the Western Tatras, another 18 glaciers were formed during worm. On the Polish side of the Tatras, 6 separate glaciers formed the glacial relief at the same period time. Geomorphologically interesting surface forms - ravines, stratified ridges; rocky towns, underground and surface karst phenomena as well as diverse and very rare plant communities are connected (alongside glacial forms in the granitoid parts of the Tatras) with the carbonate substratum of mainly the Western Tatras. The alpine glacial lakes - as the relicts of the last Ice Age, which ended up some 10 to 8 thousand years ago, are the typical elements of the High Tatras Mountains nature. Many small and larger lakes form the alpine scenery of the Tatras, while the majority of them indicate the closure of individual glaciers' :branches, the formation of which started in cirques. Considering the genesis; the glacial lakes had been either hollowed out (kar lakes) or dammed by moraines (moraine lakes). However, the majority of Tatras lakes were formed by the combination of both genesis types, when the originally hollowed out lakes were later dammed by the moraine detritus. There are about 165 lakes in the Tatras on the Slovak Republic territory in supramontane zone and mainly in subalpine and alpine zones (even subnival) above the upper forest limit. Neither in the summer the water escapes in about 100 of them. Their surface area is about 3 km` and water volume 10 million m3. In the High Tatras, about 70% of the lakes are in the alpine vegetation zone; in the Western Tatras about 50% of lakes are in the sub-alpine (dwarf pine) zone. Currently; 82% of lakes in the High Tatras and 65% in the Western Tatras are located at the southern part of the mountains. The largest lake of the Slovak par; of the High Tatras and also the deepest one (53 m) is VeI'ke Hincovo pleso (20.08 ha). The highest located lake is Modre pieso (2; 192 m a.s.i.), and Baranie pliesko (2, 207 m a.s.l.). However, Baranie piiesko dries up at the end of the summer and has no water. It should also be mentioned that 20 lakes of the total number are located in the Western Tatras, however they are shallower and relatively small (2.1 ha max.). Altitudes of the Tatras lakes are connected with individual stages of valley glaciers. Therefore, the highest located lakes are the youngest ones and the lowest located are lakes in the advanced stage of the development. The fluctuation of the kar lakes water level with the surface runoff is small (0.5 m max.). All of them freeze in the winter. The length of the freezing period is determined by the altitude and the lake size. Usually, it lasts about half a year, however in certain years large ice floes stay on the highest located lakes (on the northern side) during the whole summer. On the Polish side of the Tatras, there are another 23 glacial lakes (which do not dry up in the summer). They include the absolutely largest and deepest Tatras lakes. The largest of of them is Morske Oko (34.92 ha) and the deepest is Wielki Staw (79.3 m) with also the biggest volume of water (12.9 mil. m3). The highest located lake is Ladniz Pieciu Stawow (1.889 m a.s.l.). All glacial lakes of the Tatras are located in national nature reserves and nature reserves with the highest level of protection and they belong to two national parks - the Tatra National Park in the Slovak republic and the Tarzanski ParkNaradowy in Poland. At the same time, they are the integral part of the bilateral Tatras Biosphere Reserve. Due to continuous dynamic processes of landscape development, the glacial takes gradually (slowly) drift toward their own decay. Shallow lakes in the forest zone overgrow gradually with vegetation with simultaneous siltation. In higher altitudes, the lakes are backfilled with debris from outwash fan or debris flows and avalanches from surrounding slopes and massifs. Dammed lakes disappear because of tightness failure or because of total moraine destruction - by washing out or by anthropogenic destruction.