Goals and achievements
Projects, carried out at Carpathian Wildlife Research Station, of the Museum and Institute of Zoology PAS, situated at Ustrzyki Dolne, thematically connected with ecology and conservation of large mammals populations, are focused upon issues related to the functioning of those populations in natural and altered ecosystems of the Carpathian eco-region. At present, the main direction of research is becoming an influence of large mammals on changes of biodiversity in natural and semi-natural ecosystems.
Since 1999, a program for the restitution of the European bison in the Carpathians is coordinated here, that includes the monitoring of free ranging herds (partially with telemetry), the analysis of dynamics and structure of their home ranges – using GIS techniques, and in co-operation with Agricultural University of Warsaw – the monitoring of genetic structure of bison population, as well as planning and organisation of bison introduction aimed at mitigation of inbred effects in free ranging herds, and an increase of the home range of this population. The program involves partners from Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Ukraine. Within the framework of the program, first free ranging herd is already established in Slovakia, and acclimatisation enclosures for bison introduction have been build in Romania, Hungary and Ukraine. In Bieszczady, in the co-operation with State Forest Administration, first refuges for this species were officially approved as a part of the Natura 2000 network. The effect of this already over 10 years long program are also almost 60 publications concerning the Carpathian population of the European bison.
Research projects carried out at the Station, to a large extend fulfill the criteria of applied science. Apart of practical recommendations for European bison introduction programs in Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, such activities include: a monitoring system of European bison population in Bieszczady, continued since 1999 - commissioned by State Forest Administration, a proposal of rules for transboundary monitoring of game and protected species (red deer, roe deer, wild boar, wolf, lynx and brown bear) along Polish – Slovak and Ukrainian state borders, a coordination and interpretation of large predators’ inventory for the whole Podkarpackie Province. Staff of CWRS was also a part of the team preparing the national “Strategy for European bison conservation”.
The understanding of natural processes occurring presently at Bieszczady, would be impossible without the knowledge on exceptionally complicated here and unique for the European scale changes in the land use system, and directions of economic development of the region. Therefore, one of research projects carried out at the Station concerns the analysis of antropogenic alterations of natural environment of Western Bieszczady in last 150 years.
In the cooperation with a Canadian partner, completed was the estimation of an influence of a section of A-4 highway, planned for Podkarpackie Province, for the fragmentation of natural habitats, populations of large mammals, and mortality of wildlife. The effect of the project was the model allowing to consider zones critical for the wildlife in the planning of the course of the highway and the placement of protective installations.
Within the framework of the program coordinated by Ukrainian Ministry of Environment and Altenburg & Wymenga Ecological Consultants, we took part on the elaboration of methodology for delineating and rules for its management, for ecological corridor along Ukrainian Carpathians, and indication of perspectives for linking this structure with protected areas in Polish and Romanian parts of the Carpathians.