The Dunajec River Gorge in the Pieniny Mountains
Pieniny National Park, PolandMichal Sokolowski
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Property encompasses valley located within the Pieniny National Park in the south of Poland. During the selection of representative sites defined location represents a unique and extremely interesting geological and geomorphological features and which is characterized by poor anthropogenic influence with preservation of specific natural ecosystems.
Evaluation of high level of ecological stability and high biodiversity of flora and fauna, preservation of relict phytocenoses and zoocenoses as well as high representation of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna on the small territory served as the secondary criterion for the selection of sites.
Selected site represents the main stages of geological and geomorphological evolution of the existing territory in the period since the early cenozoic till quaternary. Geological structure, petrographic composition and proportion of rocks, tectonic movement as well as exogenetic factors created original territories, extremely valuable and rich in natural beauty.
The landscape of the Dunajec River Gorge has in contrary to the other types of country lot of specific features which distinguish it evidently from the other areas. Mainly, it is a strong interaction of all natural factors of the area (geological ground, relief, water, soil, climate, flora, fauna) and their evolutional relationships. These facts simply underline the complexity of natural conditions of the area in a whole and also in some individual details.
Limestone and dolomite ground, its shape and original evolution makes conditions for specific elements of flora and fauna which are by its existence linked to this environment. There is a typical occurrence of Carpathians plant and animal species, in many cases endemitic. With their varied morphologic segmentation they give the area original and highly valuable landscape and esthetical character.
From botanical point of view the Dunajec River Gorge serves as an example of the evolution of vegetation since glacial age to contemporary times (Pieniny was not glaciated). From phytogeographical point of view selected sites form the part of the West Carpathians flora (Carpaticum occidentale) with the occurrence of characteristic species and Carpathian endemics and subendemics. From zoological point of view the areas of mesozoic valleys have an extraordinary value for preservation of many zoologically important species and also for preservation of original and typical fauna of the Carpathians. Enormous segmentation of the terrain, heterogeneous and untouched communities cause exceedingly high biodiversity concentration in relatively small area.