Wetlands Work Wonders!

Wetlands are not only a natural system preventing floods, or a water reservoir in time of drought, an "inventory" of medicines and food for millions of people.

In Poland, as throughout the world, they are rooted in the culture, customs and lifestyles of communities that lived in their neighborhoods. For our ancestors, the impact of wetlands had to be enormous - our country's lowlands were once almost entirely covered with marshes and wetlands. There were also numerous lakes, rivers, springs and streams. They all enriched our culture.

Names associated with wetlands

The names associated with the marshes and wetlands appear in greater numbers in wetlands than in any other areas. Wetlands are often the leading theme for the naming of local places. Widespread in wetlands are the names of places such as marsh, Mud, Muds, “Biele”. Interesting is the origin of the name of. Contrary to popular belief, the name does not come from loaves of bread and salt, but from the Slavic word "bochy" meaning impassable swamp. Wetlands were called differently in different  regions, though sometimes there were different names for wetlands even within the same region. A handful of examples is as follows: biel, biele, bachorze, bagnisko, bagniska, bajoro, bara, grzęzawisko, barzelisko, czahar, ligawica, krekot, błoto, grzęzawica, grzęzawa, moczar, moczary, mokradlina, mszar, mszary, mokradło, mokrzawa, torfowisko, topiel, topielisko, trzęsaka, rojst, sapowisko, sapa, trzęsawisko (marsh, swamp, morass, peatland, quagmire, peatmoss, bog,   whirlpool).

Tales and legends about wetlands

In regions where in the past there were many wetlands, one can still listen to stories passed down from generation to generation. This was due to the inability to subdue nature in such a place. Wetlands in the eyes of the community at that time bore all the risks - not only related to the deep depths or uncertain and invisible dry land ... What was worse, in the swamps lived water nymphs, undines, nixies and the like creatures mentioned in superstition and folklore. Also, serious writers reached for the characters, the atmosphere and the dangers of the swamps as in "Balladyna" by Slowacki or  Lake Świteź immortalized by Mickiewicz.  Impassable swamps in the folk tradition are places where "the evil is born " and only witches have access to them. It was there that witches found their secret herbs, which later may have served good, healing purposes, as in "Old tale" by Kraszewski. What’s particularly interesting is that in situations of real crisis wetlands change its role and the place of the damned turns into the place of deliverance. In many stories, impassable swamps support and protect locals when they find themselves in any particular danger. It was there that locals found refuge, while the foreign invader, not knowing the terrain, is lost in the unfamiliar territory, and sometime is even lost without a trace.  Interestingly, this changing "feature" of wetlands and similar stories can be found in folklore and literature throughout the world.

Wetlands as places of human activity.

Many marshes are places where formerly peat was dug up for fuel. In Pomerania, almost any remaining peatland is more or less covered with post-excavation pits - traces of such exploitation. If we leave such places to their own devices and let it overgrow, we get a picture of plant succession of the most rare species of plants. Where there was a lot of peat, there formed elements of the culture associated with the use of the peatland. These are the traditional methods and techniques of operation, tools and equipment to dig up and transport the peat. A tradition was being created.

Hydrological infrastructure as historical evidence.

In several places, including in the Warta River valley, near Słońsk, Kostrzyn on the Oder and Witnica, there are preserved remnants of duct systems and water works created for irrigation or drainage (including the historic pumping station). Forced water flow served man as well as the surrounding flora and fauna.