Located in Northeast Poland, near the Belarus border, Biebrza National Park is the biggest of the Polish national parks with a total area of 592.23 km2 (228.66 sq mi). A protective area covers almost the entire Biebrza River, as well as forests, fields and meadows, and the famous Biebrza marshes. The most valuable habitats of the park are under strict protection including the Czerwone Bagno (Red Bog) Reserve. Biebrza Valley is a natural gem being the largest area of marshland in Central Europe. For the uniqueness of Biebrza marshes and peatlands, and its highly diversified flora and fauna, especially birds, the Park has been recognized as a wetland site of worldwide significance and is under the protection of the Ramsar Convention.
Biebrza Valley is a real paradise for bird admirers. Every spring ornithologists and birdwatchers from all over the world visit the Biebrza National Park to observe and photograph unique bird species. The area is a very important centre of nesting for many wetland birds and a preying and stopping place on their annual travels. On the endless marshy plains and reed fields there live about 270 bird species, some of which are very rare. To name just a few: Ruff (Philomachus pugnax), Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola), Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga), Great Snipe (Gallinago media), Black Tern (Chlidonias niger), White-tailed Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), Grey-headed Woodpecker (Picus canus), Eurasian Curlew, (Numenius arquata), Western Marsh-harrier (Circus aeruginosus) and many more. For some of rare and vanishing species, Biebrza marshes are among the last refuges for the survival in Central Europe.
There are also various communities of mammals and other animals in the Park, the most typical being Elk and Beaver. Over 700 hundreds of butterflies have been listed so far. Biebrza National Park protects also rare plant species, such as orchid, sundew, clubmoss or iris.
The nature of the Biebrza marshes can be experienced by choosing one of the numerous marked hiking, bicycle, horse and educational trails. There are watchtowers, observation platforms and interpretation boards placed along the paths. Biebrza River is also a well-known canoeing trail.
Other sites worth a visit in Biebrza Valley:
- Osowiec Fortress – a 19th century huge fortification complex built by Russian Tsar in the difficult to access marshes for defence against Germans. Some parts of the fortress are open for visitors.
- Augustowski Canal – a hydro-technical achievement of the 19th century which connects the Vistula (through Biebrza) and the Niemen catchments. It is an important water trail and the sluice complex at the villages of Debowo and Sosnowo can be viewed.
- Traditional wooden architecture with wooden crane wells, chapels and mills are still well preserved in many isolated charming villages of the Biebrza Valley. Folk customs and traditions are still living too.