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An outline of landscape science in Poland

Aperçu de l’évolution de la science paysagère en Pologne
K.H. Wojciechowski, Ewa Skowronek et Andrzej Tucki
p. 321-328


Cet article présente un aperçu de l’évolution de la science paysagère en Pologne. Auparavant, les travaux des scientifiques polonais traitaient principalement du développement du conditionnement naturel ou socio-économique du paysage, de ses découpages, de sa typologie et de sa régionalisation, alors que plus récemment, une attention croissante est consacrée à l’écologie paysagère, c’est-à-dire la conservation et l’aménagement du paysage. Cet article décrit les phases du développement paysager en Pologne, ainsi que les types de paysages qu’on y rencontre. La nature interdisciplinaire de la recherche actuelle dans ce domaine est mise en évidence, tandis que sont présentées les principales écoles de recherche. Cet article pourrait apporter une contribution à un travail plus vaste sur les progrès de la science paysagère en Europe.

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The history of landscape science in Poland

1The conception of landscape as a subject of study and a category useful in imparting geographic and regional knowledge appeared at the turn of the 19th century, in the works of several most distinguished geographers of the time (W. Pol, A. Rehman, E. Romer and S. Pawłowski among others), and took on a particularly interesting shape as «picturesque geography» postulated by W. Nałkowski. After years, the above conceptions, which formed a basis for regional research and syntheses, only survived in school geography, where landscape description was used to teach regional geography.

2As early as in the 1950s, the Cracow academic centre initiated a broader research work on landscape architecture, while advancing the programme of landscape architecture teaching to students in architecture. At the beginning, the research mainly consisted in documenting and analysing heritage landscape systems; then, the problems of the conservation and renewal of the systems came within the scope of the study. At the same time, the Warsaw academic centre, connected with an agricultural academy, focused on urban green areas and the green surrounding representative objects.

3Geographic landscape research, initiated a little later, at first concentrated on the issues of taxonomy, classification, evolution and functioning of landscape systems of different hierarchic order, identified as territorial nature complexes. Their properties were analysed using methods provided by relevant branches of physical geography (Bartkowski, 1970, 1977; Richling, 1982; Sołowiej, 1992).

4The 1990s brought a breakthrough in the progress of landscape research, when the number of publications on the subject multiplied, followed by documentation of the practical use of the proposed solutions. It was then that the scope of the subject was broadened, the system of education changed, and a considerable increase in the number of institutions involved in landscape research and applying the findings of the science took place.

5After many years’ efforts, the profession of «landscape architect» received an official status, and several academic centres, apart from the Cracow and Warsaw centres, introduced or expanded this subject of study. The Warsaw centre, linked to the Department of Gardening and Landscape Architecture and Institute of the Landscape Architecture of Cracow Politechnic has long been educating architects specialising in landscape architecture. At the end of the 1990s, a separate programme of their education was created in Cracow and landscape architecture became an independent faculty. Periodically held Didactic Forums in Landscape Architecture help co-ordinate and integrate the efforts aimed at educating landscape architects.

  • 1 The term «interdisciplinary» is used in the meaning «involving two or more disciplines or branches (...)

6At the same time, the scope of landscape works by geographers expanded and evolved, following the publication of interdisciplinary1 works on the problems of landscape, where the knowledge and methodology from the realm of ecology, sociology, psychology, history and cultural and art studies have been applied. Computer data processing, graphic techniques and computer cartography (mainly GIS) have become commonly used in research and the presentation of findings.

7At present, the subject matter of the research encompasses the classification and evaluation of landscape, landscape perception and the application of landscape research in spatial planning. Many publications are concerned with the issue of landscape transformations in particular, and provide a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of qualitative features of landscape, often documenting the recent and contemporary processes. Geographers from all academic centres in Poland are now involved in landscape research, those from Warsaw, Poznañ, Sosnowiec and Lublin being the most active (German & Balon, 2001).

8The creation of the Polish Association for Landscape Ecology, an organiser of annual conferences and scientific seminars on the problems of landscape research, and the patron of a serial publication «Problems of Landscape Ecology», has been an important factor in animating and integrating landscape research.

9A new Act of Parliament on nature conservation (1991) was a factor which greatly contributed to the intensification of landscape research in Poland in the 1990s. The Act introduced new types of protected areas «landscape park» and «protected landscape area» , as well as new requirements for environmental impact assessment of protected areas (including national parks). Considerable financial resources were allocated to the implementation of the assessments. Some of the statements, prepared by distinguished landscape researchers and concerned with the delimitation of protected landscape areas, the evaluation and typology of protected landscapes and the directions of their conservation, reveal an inovatory methodological approach and high substantial value (Chmielewski, 1990; Michalczyk (ed.), 2000). Nowadays, over 120 landscape parks and over 400 protected landscape areas function in Poland, besides its 23 national parks.

10The cultural landscape conservation also gained in importance at the time, owing to the establishment of a new institution associated with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage the Centre for Heritage Landscape Conservation , which supervises the governmental scheme for the compilation of heritage landscape inventory and issues a new periodical: «National Heritage Landscapes».

11The co-operation of various specialists in conducting landscape research, which has become closer in recent years and is manifest in both formal contacts and the growing congruity of attitudes to the question of the essential scope of landscape research, conservation and planning, has been institutionally confirmed. In 1998, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Education signed an agreement providing for collective efforts towards landscape conservation and education. A year later, the Governmental Programme «Conscious Landscape Planning and Heritage Landscape Conservation» was ratified.

Landscape types in Poland

  • 2 The typology of landscapes contained in Table 1 has been adopted after «Complex physical geography» (...)

12A natural landscape typology compiled by geographers was applied in Poland. When distinguishing landscape types, natural elements were considered the most important and their anthropogenic transformations were taken into account. In these terms, man is not regarded as an element of the natural system. The first such typology of natural landscapes was compiled at the end of the 1950s (Kondracki, 1960). A new version was prepared in the 1980s. The typology was published in a slightly modified and simplified form by Richling in 1992. Table1 presents an outline of the typological classification of natural landscape in Poland according to Richling2.

13A different division is used by landscape architects. It concerns the estimate of view amenities. This estimation is expressed in distinguishing natural landscape – or similar – areas (first amenities category) and harmonic agricultural landscape (second amenities category). These areas refer to the boundaries of natural landscape basic types (seaside landscape zone, lakeland, lowland, upland and mountain) (Fig. 1).

Table 1. Types of natural landscape in Poland according to Richling (1992).

Table 1. Types of natural landscape in Poland according to Richling (1992).

Source: Compiled by E.Skowronek on the basis of Bogdanowski J., 2000; Broniewski T., 1990; Cymerman et al., 1992; Miłobêdzki A., 1988; Maruszczak H., 1988.

Figure 1. The map of the types of the Polish natural landscape.

Figure 1. The map of the types of the Polish natural landscape.

14The progress of civilisation is a basis for natural (primeval) landscape transformation into varying forms, before it finally takes on the shape of a cultural landscape. Cultural landscape is therefore a manifestation of man’s economic activity. All phenomena associated with a given civilisation, with social and economic relations etc., are usually reflected in the shape of the landscape (Bogdanowski, 2000).

Stages of landscape development

15The economic history of Poland can be divided into several stages which substantially influenced the socio-economic transformations of the country, leading to the transformations of landscape space (Table 2).

Table 2. Stages of landscape development.

Table 2. Stages of landscape development.


16Recent years have seen a considerable growth of interest in landscape science in Poland. While former works on the subject mainly dealt with the development of the natural or socio-economic conditioning of landscape and its division (classification), typologies and regionalization, the present-day literature is more and more concerned with landscape ecology, which is landscape conservation and planning.

17The ecological trend in the research is gaining interdisciplinary character: biologists, geographers, sociologists, physical planners carry out parallel and complimentary research. Scientists who show great interest in the issues include: A. Richling, A. S. Kostrowicki, J. Solon, J. Plit, J. Falkowski, J. Bogdanowski, M. Pietrzak, K. H. Wojciechowski, J.M. Matuszkiewicz.

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1 The term «interdisciplinary» is used in the meaning «involving two or more disciplines or branches of learning» as defined by Webster’s New World Dictionary (1984), as well as a number of other dictionary works.

2 The typology of landscapes contained in Table 1 has been adopted after «Complex physical geography» A. Richling (1992) and refers to a physiogeographic division and terminology commonly used in Poland.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Table 1. Types of natural landscape in Poland according to Richling (1992).
Crédits Source: Compiled by E.Skowronek on the basis of Bogdanowski J., 2000; Broniewski T., 1990; Cymerman et al., 1992; Miłobêdzki A., 1988; Maruszczak H., 1988.
Fichier image/jpeg, 156k
Titre Figure 1. The map of the types of the Polish natural landscape.
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,2M
Titre Table 2. Stages of landscape development.
Fichier image/jpeg, 134k
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K.H. Wojciechowski, Ewa Skowronek et Andrzej Tucki, « An outline of landscape science in Poland », Belgeo, 2-3 | 2004, 321-328.

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K.H. Wojciechowski, Ewa Skowronek et Andrzej Tucki, « An outline of landscape science in Poland », Belgeo [En ligne], 2-3 | 2004, mis en ligne le 14 septembre 2013, consulté le 23 mars 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/belgeo.13749

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K.H. Wojciechowski

Department of Environment Protection, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska, Lublin, Poland,

Ewa Skowronek

Department of Environment Protection, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska, Lublin, Poland,

Andrzej Tucki

Department of Environment Protection, Institute of Earth Sciences, University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska, Lublin, Poland,

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