According to officials from the Tatra National Park (TPN), the complete closure of national parks due to the coronavirus pandemic is beneficial for nature.
“The absence of tourists in the Tatra Mountains benefits nature, especially animals. Our scientists have noticed that trails, which are usually packed with people, are now frequently marked with animal tracks. The peace and quiet in the Tatra Mountains is certainly beneficial for grouses and black grouses, which are currently in their lekking phase. The mating grounds are often located near the walking trails. Moreover, the situation is good for predatory animals, because they have more space for hunting. Certainly, nature will breathe more easily,” said the Director of the Tatra National Park, Szymon Ziobrowski.
The Tatra chamois, which will begin having young by the end of April, can now graze peacefully in the park.
The weather in the TPN has been sunny and more sunshine is forecast for the upcoming week. However, the rangers have not recorded any incidents. Entrances to the park are also monitored by the municipal police. The fine for entering the park despite the ban is PLN 1,000 (EUR 217), which is about 50 percent of the current minimum wage in Poland.
Closure of national parks and forests due to COVID-19
On 3 April, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of the Environment announced the closure of all state forests and national parks until further notice.
“Unfortunately, recent days have shown that despite numerous requests and appeals, many people are still ignoring the ‘stay at home’ regulation and use this time for socialising and picnicking in places such as state forests,” said the announcement.
The Ministry will intensify monitoring efforts in the parks and forests.
The Spokesperson for the National Forests, Anna Malinowska, explained that officers will “First of all, be informing and cautioning people about the regulation”.
She emphasised that if people refuse to obey the rules, they might be fined. Rangers are authorised to issue fines of PLN 500 (EUR 110) and they can also refer cases to the Sanitary Inspectorate, which in turn, can issue fines ranging between PLN 5,000 (EUR 1,085) and PLN 30,000 (EUR 6,500). The minimum wage in Poland is currently just over PLN 1,900 after taxes.
The National Forests employ 1,000 rangers. They will be helped by Police in monitoring the forests and national parks.