History

The State Forests are more than 90 years old already. Despite historical turns and changes the organization operates until today, combining tradition with modernity.
07.09.2016

The State Forests are more than 90 years old already. Despite historical turns and changes the organization operates until today, combining tradition with modernity.

Interwar

Shortly after regaining independence in 1918 the first decisions aimed at creating new forest administration were made. In 1920 there were established four regional boards of state forests (in Warsaw, Radom, Siedlce and Lviv), all supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture and National Property.

In 1924 the organization of Polish State Forests was founded entrusted by the President of the Republic of Poland - Stanisław Wojciechowski with the administration of forest areas, based on the following regulations:

  • of June 28 - The Statute of Polish State Forests,
  • of December 30 – pertaining to organization and administration of state forests.

Legal and economic model of Polish forestry was shaped over the next few years. During the 1930s the first director of the State Forests, Adam Loret, outlined the vision of the organization according to which, the forest has many diverse functions, and the production of timber is only one of them.

In 1934, by Loret’s initiative the State Forest was modernized. The number of regional directorates of the SF was reduced to nine. The number of forest districts was 434. The state forests occupied then the area of over 3.3 million hectares.

War

World War II interrupted the dynamic development of the State Forests. The occupants introduced their own forest administration immediately. Forests were heavily affected by the war. The management of forests conducted on the territories occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was in fact plundering forest resources. Many foresters gave their lives during the fight. It is estimated that the total number of foresters fighting on all fronts of World War II was about 11 thousand, and 724 of them were murdered in Katyn, Kharkov and Miednoje. Adam Loret was arrested by Soviets on September 19 in 1939 and never came back.

Throughout the time of war, foresters supported partisan troops finding refuge in the forests. Sometimes whole families of foresters were executed because they helped partisans. The events of that period are commemorated by numerous graves scattered in the forests of the country. Foresters take care of them, so that  the memory of the struggle for freedom will survive.

Years of the Polish People’s Republic (PRL)

After the war, the state took over the ownership of forests, sawmills, wood processing plants and also other forest products. The area of state forests increased then to more than 6 million hectares. As of January 1 1948, in 16 Directorates of the State Forests there were 917 forest districts, including three national parks.

The next years brought further modifications of the state forests management system. In 1950 in place of 16 directorates there were established two levels of management: the precinct (17) and district (137) boards. In 1975 seven precinct boards were removed. In subsequent years, they gradually returned to the former number of precinct boards, however with great changes in the shape of boundaries.

The years of PRL it is the time of imposed standards and size of harvested wood by the central authority, which was often contradictory to the rational principles of forest management. Yet, despite these difficulties, foresters always managed to put the good of forests at the first place.

Third Republic

Another breakthrough for the State Forests happened in 1990s and as the result of the change of the political system in Poland. Forest management was subsumed into the Forest Act, the most important document for the organization. Passage of this bill in 1991 moved the emphasis of the State Forests' activities. The necessity of permanent preservation of forest and the continuity of its multifunctional use by current and future generations were strongly underlined. This law resulted in renaming the Supreme Board of the SF into the Directorate-General of the State Forests, and the precinct boards into regional directorates of the SF. The authority of individual organizational units was redefined. In 1994 the State Forests were given a new statute. This Act introduced the concept of the Forest Service.

* Source: Z. Peszkowski, S. Zdrojewski, Foresters graves in Katyn, Warsaw 2001