Upper Silesian Nature Heritage Centre 25 years in the service of nature conservation (1992-2017)
The end of 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Upper Silesian Nature Heritage Centre1. The principal jubilee celebrations took place on the 16th of May 2018, when the scientific seminar “Concept of nature conservation in the service of a democratic society: yesterday, today, and tomorrow” was organized, under the honorable patronage of Wojciech Saługa, the Marshal of the Silesia Province. At the seminar, held in the historic hall of the Silesian Parliament in Katowice, a report was presented summing up the main fields of activity of the Centre in the years 1992-2017. It covered documenting the knowledge about nature by the Centre, scientific research, nature conservation, environmental education and disseminating the knowledge about nature, all illustrated by synthetic statistical summaries (Parusel 2018b).
In this jubilee context, a special issue of the Nature of Upper Silesia magazine (No. 93/2018) was prepared, presenting to the people of Silesia the achievements of the Centre in carrying out its statutory activities. Moreover, a more complete documentation of the Centre’s activities in the years 1992-2017 was compiled in the form of a report. Before I encourage the readers to study the report, I wish to briefly outline the history of the Centre2 and its establishment, and the most important achievements of the institution headed by me.
The Upper Silesian Nature Heritage Centre was established by Wojciech Czech, the Governor of the Katowice Province, by Order No. 204/92 of the 15th of December 1992, defining the organizational by-law and granting 12 job positions to start operations. This document was altered by Order No. 154/94 of the 22nd of November 1994 that reduced the number of positions to 8. According to the orders and the Centre’s by-law, the Centre is a state-financed institution appointed to study, document, protect, and forecast the condition of nature in Upper Silesia. To this day, it remains the only provincial institution of this kind in Poland.
The first director of the Centre was Henryk Kasza, PhD, employed at the Hydrologic Station of the Department of Hydrobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Goczałkowice, who resigned from his position in October 1994. On the 26th of November 1994, the Governor of Katowice appointed to this role Jerzy Parusel, MSc, previously employed at the Babia Góra National Park (Parusel 1997).
Until November 1994 the Centre did not formally begin its statutory activities. In December 1994 the necessary administration and legal measures were taken in order to launch the institution’s operations. Thanks to the help of the Vice-governor of the Katowice Province, the Centre obtained the office space located at Wita Stwosza 31 in Katowice. Its renovation and furnishing began shortly. The very same month, first employees were hired. The Centre was later forced to leave the office at Wita Stwosza due to change of ownership of the property. In October 1997 a new office was procured, at Św. Huberta 35 in Katowice, in the Institute of Forest Research, and was used as the Centre’s office until March 2017. Since April 2017, the Centre's office has been operating at Graniczna 29 in Katowice.
As a result of the administrative reform of Poland, effective the 1st of January 1999, the Centre, by virtue of the ordinance of the Prime Minister of the 25th of November 1998 (Dz. U. [Journal of Laws] 1998, No. 147, item 965), was handed over to the Province of Silesia. By Resolution No. I/51/5/2002 of the Silesian Regional Assembly of 17 June 2002, the provincial self-governing organizational unit called Upper Silesian Nature Heritage Centre was granted its by-law. The Centre is supervised by the Department of Environmental Protection of the Marshal's Office of the Silesia Province. Pursuant to § 6 of the Centre’s by-law, the statutory goal of the Centre is to act in favor of all living and non-living nature of Upper Silesia by collecting knowledge about it, by scientific, protective, and educational activities, in order to preserve the region’s identity and the role and significance of its nature.
The first organizational structure of the Centre was defined in the Internal Regulation of the Centre’s Director (No. 4/95 of the 13th of October 1995) regarding the temporary organizational structure of the Upper Silesia Nature Heritage Centre. The following departments and self-contained positions were created: Department of Nature Documentation, Administrative Unit, chief librarian, education and publishing officer. Currently, the Centre’s organizational structure is as follows: Department of Nature Documentation, Laboratory of Natural Information, and self-contained positions of chief accountant, administrative assistant, and administrative officer.
The Centre’s activities are conducted in the four areas defined in the by-law: documenting the knowledge about nature, scientific research, nature conservation, environmental education and disseminating the knowledge about nature. The Centre’s activity for the years 1992-2017 in figures is presented below (Parusel 2018a), and more detailed data is provided on the further pages of this report.
The documentation activity of the Centre, carried out in the form of databases, amounts to the total of 105,886 records about biodiversity, 3,781 records about protected areas, and 2,306 records about areas worth protecting, 696 records about active protection and 98 records about nature monitoring, 3,384 records about nature trails and ecological education centers, and 797 other records about nature. The natural bibliography includes 16,712 bibliographic items, with 8,723 bibliographical notes prepared. The bibliography of the Pszczyna’s European bisons contained 2,013 items, of which 1,400 published.
During the 25 years of operation, the Centre's staff pursued 95 research topics, including 35 long-term ones. These studies were published in over 300 scientific papers and announcements and in nearly 400 popular science articles and announcements, in national and foreign journals and publications.
In the years 1995-2017, the Centre undertook a total of 3,001 pro-conservation measures. It issued 1,159 opinions, prepared 429 studies and releases, conducted 357 field inspections, performed 243 interventions, carried out 235 actions in the field of active protection, participated in 217 councils and meetings, conducted 102 nature inventories, provided 135 consultations, and filed 124 proposals and motions regarding nature conservation3.
In the years 1996-2017, a total of over 1,000 educational activities were carried out, including 503 field workshops, 618 lectures, 13 competitions, and 11 exhibitions. Over 34,000 people participated in those events, mainly school-age children and youth. The task of disseminating knowledge is also carried out by running websites and social networks.
In the years 1995-2017, the Centre published 5 titles of continuous publications (periodicals and serial publications – in total 126 volumes and issues), 20 volumes of nonserial publications, 2 multimedia publications, and 4 posters.
Up to the year 2017, the Library collection contained 11,639 volumes of publications, cartographic materials, and special items, and 1,402 electronic publications, as well as 25,450 elements of the photographic collection.
In April 2018, the Centre was awarded the Golden Honorary Badge for Merits for the Silesian Province, which was presented during the jubilee seminar to the director of the Upper Silesia Nature Heritage Centre by the Chairman of the Silesian Regional Assembly, Stanisław Gmitruk.
1 In 2014, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Centre’s operations, the national conference “Regional red lists in conservation of natural resources: their role, condition, and needs” was held (Parusel 2013; 2014a,b,c; 2016a,b; 2017; Sokół 2014).
2 The introduction does not cover the activities undertaken in order to establish the Centre in the period between the 15th of December 1992 - the 26th of November 1994 and the efforts made by the Governor of the Katowice Province prior the decision to establish the Centre in 1992. Therefore, this period requires an examination based on archival documentation of the former Provincial Office in Katowice.
3 Additionally, as part of the statutory activities of the Centre, further 296 actions were taken, including: 211 conducted studies and releases, 51 inventories, 14 consultations, 12 issued opinions, 8 councils and meetings held (3,297 in total).
Parusel J. 2014a. 20 lat działalności Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, pages 8-11. In: Parusel J. B. (ed.) Regionalne czerwone listy zagrożenia w ochronie zasobów przyrody – ich rola i znaczenie oraz stan i potrzeby. Konferencja naukowa, 26 listopada 2014 r., Katowice. Streszczenia referatów i posterów. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice.
Parusel J. B. 1997. Sprawozdanie z działalności Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska w latach 1994-1997. Natura Silesiae Superioris, 1: 79-86. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice.
Parusel J. B. 2013. 20 lat działalności Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska. Przyroda Górnego Śląska, 71: 2. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice.
Parusel J. B. 2014b. Jubileuszowe konferencje naukowe w Katowicach. Przyroda Górnego Śląska, 78: 15. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice.
Parusel J. B. (ed.) 2014c. Regionalne czerwone listy zagrożenia w ochronie zasobów przyrody – ich rola i znaczenie oraz stan i potrzeby. Konferencja naukowa, 26 listopada 2014 r., Katowice. Streszczenia referatów i posterów. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice, pages 67.
Parusel J. B. a. 20 lat działalności Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska. Biuletyn Komitetu Ochrony Przyrody PAN, 5-6/2014-2015: 266-269.
Parusel J. B. b. Konferencja naukowa „Regionalne czerwone listy zagrożenia w ochronie zasobów przyrody – ich rola i znaczenie oraz stan i potrzeby. Biuletyn Komitetu Ochrony Przyrody PAN, 5-6/2014-2015: 261-265.
Parusel J. B. (ed.) 2017. Regionalne czerwone listy zagrożenia w ochronie zasobów przyrody – ich rola i znaczenie oraz stan i potrzeby. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice, pages 230.
Parusel J. B. 2018a. 25 lat w służbie ochrony przyrody. Przyroda Górnego Śląska, 93: 2. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice.
Parusel J. B. 2018b. Seminarium naukowe z okazji 25-lecia Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska. Przyroda Górnego Śląska, 93: 3. Centrum Dziedzictwa Przyrody Górnego Śląska, Katowice.
Sokół K. 2014. Relacja z obchodów 20-lecia działalności Centrum.