Vistula River (Poland) - concepts of management
Jedraszko-Dabrowska Danuta, ; Bukacińska, Monika; Bukaciński, Dariusz; Cygan, Jakub P.
The Vistula River is the longest river in Poland; it is 1047 km long and its drainage basin covers over half the total area of the country (Fig. 1). It is one of the largest European rivers which has maintained almost natural character on a large part of its reach. The reason for this lies in the history of Poland. For about 150 years Poland was occupied; it was divided among three countries and the River Vistula flowed through peripheries of them. So in the nineteenth century when big European rivers were regulated and adapted for transport and other purposes, no one was interested in investing in the Vistula River as a whole. It was only partly regulated in its upper and lower reaches. At present there are three small reservoirs on the upper part of the Vistula, near Kraków and a big one on the lower part, near Wloclawek. In the lowlands there are embankments along wide stretches of the river valley to prevent floods. In some places the banks are regulated, vegetation cut off and partial dams are built across the river bed to straighten the channel. But the major part of the middle Vistula from Sandomierz to Plock has kept its character of a wild river. There are very rich plant associations in the Vistula floodplain valley; long strips of poplar and willow woods, in few places also ash-elm associations, old river beds with vegetation of various stages of succession, from swamps and rushes to alder swamp forests. Such plant associations may exist only due to floods periodically occuring in the floodplain valley. Some areas are used as meadows and pastures.