Polish Geographical Review (Przegląd Geograficzny)

The longest-running (since 1919) Polish geographical journal with countrywide coverage. In the years 1919-1953, it appeared under the sponsorship of the Polish Geographical Society, and later on, since 1954 – it has been published by the Institute of Geography (and Spatial Organization) Polish Academy of Sciences.

The journal publishes original papers that cover a range of theoretical, methodological, and empirical issues, with subject-matter reflecting both main trends as well as an evolution going on in Polish geography. The majority of papers is published in Polish, and only occasionally in English. Among the Authors are not only Poles but also foreigners. Since 2001, the particular issues have been dedicated to two broadly defined geographical fields, i.e. being entirely focused on either physical or socio-economic geography.

A Quarterly – in the past, some of the numbers were published as combined issues (in the years 1941-1946 one issue per year). In 2019, 90th volume appeared. The journal is prepared and edited by the Committee of Editors; since 2001, the editorial works have been conducted in cooperation with consultative and advisory body in the form of Editorial Board, consisting of renowned representatives of geographical sciences both from Poland and abroad.

The journal is indexed by Scopus, GeoRef, ProQuest-IBBS, Geobase, Current Geographical Publications – Contents, Bibliographie Géographique Internationale.

The primary version of the journal is printed version.

Open Access journal. Papers are published under a Creative Common Attribution CC BY 4.0 licence without embargo period. 

Current issue

Articles

Rock mushrooms in Poland and the world – terminology, distribution, views on evolution

Filip Duszyński, Piotr Migoń

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 1, pp. 5-30 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.1.1

Further information

Abstract:

Various shapes are taken on by the bedrock outcrops emerging from regolith cover, typically described using the generic term ‘crag’ or ‘tor’ (the latter term most frequently in relation to granite outcrops). Consequently, specific terms have been proposed to account for this variety. Among these outcrops are those consisting of a narrow lower part (stem) and a wider upper part (cap), resembling a mushroom. In English, they are named pedestal rocks if built of hard, well-lithified rock; or hoodoos if the rock is softer, but there is no established boundary line between the two. Not uncommonly, however, and perhaps less formally, they are referred to as ‘rock mushrooms’ (or mushroom rocks), to emphasise the unusual shape. In Polish, the term equivalent to ‘rock mushroom’ has been used at least since the 1930s, and appears to be a legitimate part of geomorphological vocabulary. In this paper, we present the occurrences of rock mushrooms in different lithologies, identify geological controls and review various hypotheses regarding their origin and evolution.

Rock mushrooms are known from various lithological settings, although some bedrock types clearly favour their origin more than the others. First of all, these are sandstones and conglomerates. Rock mushrooms are up to 10 m high, whereas height proportions between the stem and the cap vary, resulting in a great variety of specific shapes, from large monoliths on low (<1 m) pedestals to tiny caps on top of slender stems >5 m high. In Poland, the north-eastern part of the Stołowe Mountains abounds in rock mushrooms developed in Upper Cretaceous sandstones; but they also occur in other parts of the Sudetes, where Cretaceous sandstones crop out; and in the flysch Carpathians. Specific variants of rock mushrooms in clastic rocks include those related to non-uniform silification of sandy sediments (e.g. Fontainebleau Forest, France) or secondary ferruginisation of sandstone beds (e.g. Kokořinsko, Czechia). Rock mushrooms are also known from limestone and dolomite terrain, with the massive forms in Ciudad Encantada, Spain, being probably the tallest known from literature. The latter are up to 15 m high and have developed within a dolomite succession. Heights above 10 m are also attained by rock mushrooms in the volcanic succession of Cappadocia, Turkey, locally described as ‘fairy chimneys’. A great variety of shapes are documented from this region, with conical caps being very common. Granite rock mushrooms are comparatively rare, and in this case a clear distinction between the stem and the cap usually proves difficult. More commonly, the outcrops assume a shape resembling the letter ‘S’ or ‘Ω’, with basal undercutting grading smoothly into a wider upper part. A specific term ‘flared slope’ has been proposed to account for this basal concavity. Finally, cap-on-stem situations typify eroded glacigenic deposits, best known from the Alps, where boulders embedded in till or outwash sediments provide a protective cap to the underlying mass. As the overall shape is often conical, the term ‘earth pyramid’ is used in some languages (e.g. Polish and German).

Three main types of geological control may be identified for rock mushrooms. Relation to rock layering is most evident, with a more-resistant bed supporting the cap. Higher resistance may be due to lithological characteristics (e.g. sandstone over shale, ignimbrite over lacustrine silt) or structural differentiation (e.g. various density of bedding, changes in primary porosity, homogeneous over thinly bedded sandstone, different degree of welding in ignimbrites, non-uniform silification or ferruginisation). Another group arises in situations of more-resistant elements being distributed without any order, as within glacigenic deposits. Consequently, whereas in the former cases it is possible to observe caps of adjacent rock mushrooms at the same level, no comparable patterns exist in the latter. The third group includes rock mushrooms not showing evident rock control, and of origins relating primarily to greater efficacy of rock disintegration in the lower part of the outcrop.

Rock mushrooms have more than one origin, and many can in fact be polygenetic. In each case, however, rock disintegration is clearly more efficient in the basal part. The reasons for enhanced efficacy at this point vary, and include: (a) aeolian undercutting – this view prevails in primary and secondary geographical education, even as wind-abraded rock mushrooms are by no means the most common examples; (b) differential weathering related to lithological or structural heterogeneity of rock, even as the exact mechanisms of weathering may vary; (c) subsurface (subsoil) weathering (etching) leading to the (e) overland flow and gully erosion – these processes are fundamental for rock-mushroom evolution in poorly-lithified deposits; (f) negative feedback between stress and erosion on exposed bedrock outcrops.

Rock mushrooms are thus good examples of geomorphic equifinality, with the consequence that any a priori generalisations regarding their origin may prove misleading. They are also good illustrations how both substrate (rock or sediment) and process shape landforms. So it is that these not only have scenic value (as “natural curiosities”), as has been recognised for many years now, and indeed emphasised in the context of tourist activity; but also considerable educational value to be taken advantage of in both geoeducation and geotourism.

Keywords: skalne grzyby, ewolucja rzeźby, wietrzenie, geomorfologia strukturalna

Filip Duszyński [filip.duszynski@uwr.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Instytut Geografii i Rozwoju Regionalnego
Piotr Migoń [piotr.migon@uwr.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Instytut Geografii i Rozwoju Regionalnego

Recent experience with and trends in the artificial nourishment of marine and lagoon beaches in Poland, with a particular focus on the Hel Peninsula

Helena Boniecka

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 1, pp. 31-57 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.1.2

Further information

Abstract:

Artificial beach nourishment is one of key methods preventing coastal erosion and flooding, acting in support of the maintenance of much-disturbed coastal environments and their much-desired recreational functions.

Beach fills have been implemented since the 1930s, though relevant conceptual studies in Poland were elaborated in the 1960s and 1970s. These summarised the worldwide experience focusing on the rational implementation of beach fills in Poland. Recommendations at that time included a maximisation of the use made of sand dredged from navigation channels and canals, with a view to this being used to nourish abraded beaches near ports.

In 1978, sand by-passing was implemented successfully at the Dźwirzyno and Rowy fishing harbors, with regular dredging of the approach channels and harbour canals being combined with the pumping of a water-sand mixture on the lee (eastern) side of breakwaters. These systems have remained operational through to the present day. The largest fills were generated in the 1994‑1996 period; being ca. three times greater than the volume of sand dumped offshore.

Between 1980 and 2014, 32.2 M m3 of sand were deposited along the Polish coast and lagoon shores. This offered partial compensation of the reduced nearshore sand deficit, and served to increase resilience of beaches and the backshore in the face of erosion and inundation, while also helping with the contamination of beaches due to uncontrolled emissions in the course of events of the latter type. More than half of the total fill volume was deposited along the offshore coast of the Hel Peninsula, where a comprehensive scheme for coastal protection was implemented between 1989 and 1995. The Peninsula, and particularly its root and central part, are among sites in Poland most vulnerable to erosion, often subject to catastrophic inundation threats.

Following Poland’s adoption of the Coastal Protection Act 2003 (see the Dziennik Ustaw Official Journal of Laws of 2016, item 678), fills became the most popular coastal‑protection measure. Between 2004 and 2014 this measure was resorted to predominantly along offshore stretches of the Hel Peninsula, and at beaches adjacent to open sea ports on their lee (eastern) sides (including harbours from Łeba along to Dziwnów).

Fills were also performed along the shores of the Gulf of Gdańsk, where erosion processes have accelerated in recent decades; and at the open-sea beaches near Jarosławiec, Ustronie Morskie and Niechorze. The latter installations operated in support of existing protection schemes. Comprehensive protection of the soft cliff between Rewal and Trzęsacz was also inaugurated, the background erosion tendencies ongoing their having coincided with anthropogenic activities causing disruption to local geodynamic processes. Since the time of adoption of the Coastal Protection Act, a total fill volume of 10.5 M m3 has been deployed, see Table 1. This represents about one-third of all the filling done from 1980 until 2014.

Many positive changes are to be identified along the open-sea coast of the Hel Peninsula, on which more than 17.5M m3 of sand were deposited in the years from 1989 through to 2014, cf. Table 1, Figs. 3, 4 and 5. The large fill volumes achieved during the first 5 years of implementation of the protection scheme along the Peninsula resulted in rehabilitation of the nearshore seabed to such an extent that follow-up re-nourishment only needed to assume a lesser intensity. Morphometric parameters along the nourished beaches allow for them to be classified as very highly resilient in the face of hydrodynamic forces.

Since erosion tendencies prevail in Poland’s coastal zones, any cessation of beach fills may result in a gradual loss depletion of the level of safety achieved. Thus, annual deposition of several hundred thousand m3 of sand along the offshore beaches of the Hel Peninsula continues to represent an absolute necessity if the current level of resilience is to be maintained.

Reduction of nearshore sand deficits by way of beach filling represents the only method of preventing negative beach responses. Re-nourishments are determined by hydrological and morphodynamic factors, and should gain incorporation into the protection actions being planned by coastal authorities. There can be no doubt that the experience acquired thus far can provide for successive optimisation of the method under consideration, with a view to level of protection efficacy being raised, even as respect for environmental sustainability is also achieved.

Keywords: sztuczne zasilanie, brzeg morski, erozja, deficyt osadów strefy brzegowej, kubatura osadów

Helena Boniecka [helena.boniecka@im.umg.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Morski w Gdyni, Instytut Morski

Contemporary dynamics of the beaches and dunes in the central part of the Vistula Sandbar, as well as forecast changes following the construction of canal breakwaters

Tomasz Arkadiusz Łabuz

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 1, pp. 59-85 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.1.3

Further information

Abstract:

The aim of the work described here has been to analyse contemporary changes along the shore along the central part of the Vistula Sandbar located on the Baltic’s south coast. There, breakwaters are being installed to protect the canal cut that has been under construction since 2020 (fig.1). Shoreline changes involving both dunes and beaches have been predicted to arise following construction of breakwaters, which will obviously influence the dynamics of the previously natural shore of the Sandbar. Factors exerting an influence on these have been presented by reference to the results of field research done in the 2003‑2020 period.

The section of the Sandbar under discussion (the middle part, at km 18‑25, fig. 1, 2) has so far shown only limited accumulation trends. Plate 1 presents different relief of the foredunes caused by storm surges and aeolian processes. The wind regime for 2001‑2017 features the more marked presence of wind from the W and SW sector. Aeolian accumulation caused by such westerly winds is rebuilding the beach and dune in the investigated area (fig. 6‑8). The strongest winds are those from the NW that arise during the autumn-winter period.

The orientation of the sandbar coast ensures that erosion in the course of storm surges is different. The middle part of the Vistula Sandbar is only eroded during the highest storm surges (fig. 3). Over the research period, it was possible to observe erosion of various types caused by storm surges recorded in Gdańsk. Since 2003, there have been several storm surges featuring a water level higher than 1.2 m AMSL. Each such surge ensures severe erosion of dunes (as in 2004, 20006, 2007, 2012, 2017 and 2019). Storm erosion is a major factor in dune development: the higher the surge, the higher the levels of water run up and coastal erosion (fig. 4). During the highest surges (featuring water of H>1.2 m AMSL, the run-up is of almost 4 m AMSL. The mean rate of retreat at the base of the foredune is 3‑4 m, while the maximum reaches 7‑8 m.

In the periods between storms, the areas at the bases of dunes increases by 0.8 to 1.5 m/y. Reconstruction of the dunes took place up to 2‑3 years after a major storm surge. The sand building foredunes is fine and medium (average 0.20‑0.21 mm). There are fines sands along the whole Vistula Sandbar, while beach dune sand is coarser. The coarsest sand is the type that builds the beach ridge (0.3‑0.4 mm). This type of material comes from the cliffs of the Sambian Peninsula located in the NE part of the Gulf of Gdańsk. Plants scattered across the beach ensure aeolian accumulation on the upper beach.

Beach height is often higher than the highest water run-up during storm surges, with this serving to safeguard dunes against erosion. Beach width is almost widest on the investigated part of Sandbar (other than at the mouth of the Vistula delta), exceeding 41 m on average (figs. 1C and 5).

The foredune dynamics are not great (figs. 6 and 7). However, there are more major increases in years lacking storm erosion, with the height of foredunes exceeding 4‑5 m. Neighbouring sections of coast lack such foredunes, however – meaning that erosion is more marked there than along the Sandbar’s central stretch.

The area under study is one of two accumulating sections of the Vistula (the second being in the Vistula Delta). Analyses show that breakwaters constructed will block sediment transport on both the shore and the beach. All aeolian sediment will accumulate on the western side of the Canal that is to be completed (at km 26‑25). There will be new dune growth and beach widening. Sand will not be transported eastwards (at km 23‑18 and further east to Krynica Morska). Dunes will not develop in this section, and that will ensure the development of erosive tendencies. The erosion of dunes will take place on the eastern side of breakwaters and may exceed 0.5 to 1.2 m/y (fig. 8). Annual rates of erosion will depend on the number of strong storm surges with sea level H > 1 m. Such surges occur more frequently than they did in the 20th century.

Keywords: dynamika plaż, rozwój wydm, erozja sztormowa, akumulacja eoliczna, przekop Mierzei Wiślanej

Tomasz Arkadiusz Łabuz [tomasz.labuz@usz.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Szczeciński, Instytut Nauk o Morzu i Środowisku

Determination of wind-energy resources in Poland using the results of numerical meteorological models

Andrzej Mazur

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 1, pp. 87-102 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.1.4

Further information

Abstract:

Previous studies identified regions of Poland privileged in terms of their wind energy resources, given that they are in areas in which energy values exceed 750 kWh/m2/year at 10 metres above ground level. These are mainly the Baltic coast, the Suwałki region, the ranges of mountains and hills called Bieszczady, Beskid Śląski and Beskid Żywiecki, and central Wielkopolska and Mazowsze. Comparing these results with research over an analyzed period, the author concludes that there has been a certain displacement of energy-privileged areas. The coast remains the most advantageous area from the point of view of new developments in wind energy, but central and eastern Podkarpacie is no longer as favourable as, for example, the Sudety Mountains, with the same being true of the comparison between the Suwałki Region and Warmia. Finally, the privileged area in central Poland “shifted” north-north-east, from Wielkopolska towards Kujawy and the northern part of Mazovia.

The comparison of the results for individual seasons (warm and cold) allows for the conclusion (based on both measurement and model data) that, due to the location of Poland, dominant wind directions, and maximum velocities achieved in different seasons, average wind speed and the value of generated wind energy are much greater during the (October-March) cold season. On the other hand, the warm season (April-September) contributes to resources of wind energy to a much more limited extent.

The basic input data for the programmes for the assessment of wind-energy resources (especially the “older” ones whose development began before 2000) were the results of measurements at Meteorological Stations. Exemplary evaluations of this kind used to be prepared with the aid of a Danish model called WAsP (the Wind Atlas Analysis and Application Program). This made it possible to produce wind-energy calculations on the basis of data from synoptic stations.

Requirements attached to programs of this type of course combined with input data, necessitate generalisation of results or limited applicability to lowland areas with a non-complex orography (mainly given a need to “transfer” the results of calculations from the vicinity of a meteorological station to the place in which the construction of a wind turbine is foreseen. The use of the calculation results of the numerical meteorological model in high spatial resolution allows for such problems to be overcome with no loss of quality or representativeness of results.

This paper presents a comparison of the results of calculations of wind-energy resources based on measurements at meteorological stations and on the basis of the results of the COSMO meteorological model in three basic resolutions in the period 2011‑2019. The results of this work encouraged a conclusion that the products of the numerical meteorological model, especially those launched at high resolution, on a convection-permitting scale, can be deployed successfully in both pure and applied circumstances. Comparison of measurements revealed that, with a view to correct and true-to-reality results being obtained, it was worth increasing model resolution for computational purposes – up to several kilometers, even taking into account the related extension of computing time, as well as the increase in disk space necessary for data storage.

The desirability – in terms of investment – of increasing the heights and sizes of planned wind power plants was also confirmed, as more energy may be obtained in this way. Even as the costs of such structures increase with their heights, the results of the work presented here show clearly that the use of taller power plants (specifically those for which the rotor axis is at the level of 50, 100 or more meters above ground level) offers the chance of a major increase in the gross amount of energy that can be generated. This is due to the change with the mean wind speed linearly with the power profile, while the amount of wind energy obtained depends on the wind speed taken to the third power. Thus, a raising of the level of the rotor axis to a height ten times higher – e.g. from 10 to 100m agl. – on average results in about a fivefold increase in the amount of wind energy obtainable each year.

Keywords: nergia wiatru, model meteorologiczny, rozdzielczość siatki obliczeniowej, profil prędkości wiatru

Andrzej Mazur [andrzej.mazur@imgw.pl], Instytut Meteorologii i Gospodarki Wodnej – Państwowy Instytut Badawczy

Illegal motorised tourism in the State Forests in Poland

Dagmara Chylińska, Krzysztof Kołodziejczyk

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 1, pp. 103-132 | Full text
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.1.5

Further information

Abstract:

As well as serving economic functions, forests in Poland are places of rest and recreation. However, a particular form of the latter, not necessarily coming to mind as a first association, is illegal motorised tourism, which entails entries into forests in or on off-road cars, quads, and cross and enduro motorcycles. With a view to achieving fuller insight into these activities, and the problems they pose, the present article offers the results of analyses as regards the spatial distribution, intensity and characteristics of the phenomenon. The effectiveness of existing tools to combat the practice is then assessed, prior to a presentation of solutions foresters propose, to ensure that infringements of the law are counteracted, even as compromises are arrived at so that the needs of various groups of user of forests are met. Data supporting such an approach to analysis derive from questionnaire-surveying targeted at Poland’s Forest Districts. Some 332 of Poland’s 430 Districts elected to participate in the survey, with the vast majority (as many as 86.45%) recording illegal entries, most often featuring motorcycles or quads, and slightly less often involving off-road cars. This denotes a phenomenon affecting at least 66.74% of Poland’s Forest Districts. Indeed, the phenomenon of illegal motorised tourism in forests is seen to be spread rather evenly across the country, even as certain Forest Districts see this as being among the most important problems faced. Among the 287 affected FDs, 90.59% assess this as a problem that is either growing or maintained at the same level. Manifestations are of both an individual or collective nature (through with the former dominant) and with local people by far the most involved. 42.86% of respondents regarded legal provisions relevant to illegal entry into the forest as ineffective (though 36.24% were of the opposite opinion). Those not satisfied pointed to penalties that are too low, and powers of the Forest Guard that are too limited. While the problem of illegal motorised tourism affects forest areas across the country, FDs’ conviction that locals are the main culprits ensures that preventative measures will mainly be local in scope. That would denote an increased involvement for local authorities in the combating of the practice, as well as educational activity in the direction of the stigmatisation of specific activities, the elimination of tacit public consent for the breaking of the law, and the provisioning of legal alternatives to illegal motorised tourism. While effective combating of a negative phenomenon is sought by foresters, who therefore demand comprehensive amendment of the law, those involved are nevertheless willing to countenance the development of specially-organised routes for off-road driving.

Keywords: turystyka zmotoryzowana, turystyka w lasach, obszary cenne przyrodniczo, Lasy Państwowe, Polska

Dagmara Chylińska [dagmara.chylinska@uwr.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Instytut Geografii i Rozwoju Regionalnego
Krzysztof Kołodziejczyk [krzysztof.kolodziejczyk@uwr.edu.pl], Uniwersytet Wrocławski, Instytut Geografii i Rozwoju Regionalnego

Forthcoming

Articles

Changes in population in rural areas of Poland as set against their levels of socio-economic development

Andrzej Rosner, Monika Wesołowska

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.1

Further information

Abstract:

Rural areas in Poland have recently been witnessing an intensive process of transformation of economic structure inter alia manifesting in a change of the occupational structure characterising inhabitants. Development of non-agricultural ways of utilising the farms present in rural areas is tending confer a multifunctional character upon these, with populations growing even as the role of agriculture as a source of income for inhabitants is in decline. On the other hand, marginal areas with a still-dominant agricultural function continue to experience considerable loss of population. One of the effects of these observable process entails change in types of rural settlement.

Considering Poland’s local-authority areas (at the level of the so-called gmina), the authors here hypothesise that levels of socio-economic development correlate with trends as regards population change, in that gminas already enjoying a high(er) level of development undergo population increase, while the rural areas lagging behind in terms of development continue to depopulate.

The aim of the work presented here has that been to consider a method by which to better determine gminas’ levels of socio-economic development, as developed within the Monitoring of Rural Development in Poland framework. A further objective is to ensure enhancement of existing knowledge regarding changes in the spatial distribution of rural populations in line with both levels of socio-economic development in given areas and structural features characterising those levels. Comparisons with the statistical databases of Poland’s Central Statistical Office (Statistics Poland) are then made, to allowing growing and depopulating villages to be distinguished from each other.

Results confirm a steady evolution of the spatial differentiation characterising Poland’s rural population, with the actual effect being for population in regions located far from larger cities to decrease, even as that in suburban areas goes on increasing. However, the work also confirms how developmental differences arising during the era of Poland’s (18th-20th-century) Partitions between Russia, Prussia and Austria continue to influence the condition and development of particular parts of the country.

Relationships between levels of socio-economic development and migration processes are also to be observed, in that: where the level of socio-economic development is higher, the inflow of population from cities is also greater, even as rates of outflow of population abroad decrease.

In juxtaposing information on gminas’ directions of socio-economic development and demographic situations, the authors demonstrate how rural areas of economic structure still dominated by agriculture are the ones most affected by loss of inhabitants, while areas with relatively developed multifunctionality or multifunctionality of households are less involved in processes by which the distribution of population in the countryside is changing. A diversified economic structure of villages, and especially a high degree of deagrarianisation to livelihoods in the rural population, is a factor doing much to counteract processes of rural depopulation. In turn, it is readily observable that population concentrates in the central villages of local (gmina) systems – at the expense of small villages located on these systems’ peripheries. As a result, centralised villages gain population, strengthen their position as local centres, and eventually achieve town status in a process that is therefore conducive to a strengthening of the network of small Polish towns enjoying local importance.

Keywords: zmiany zaludnienia, obszary wiejskie, poziom rozwoju społeczno-gospodarczego, Polska

Andrzej Rosner [arosner@irwirpan.waw.pl], Instytut Rozwoju Wsi i Rolnictwa PAN
Monika Wesołowska [monika.wesolowska@umcs.pl], Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, Instytut Geografii Społeczno-Ekonomicznej i Gospodarki Przestrzennej

The classification of small towns – a review of research approaches and an attempt at multi-criteria classification

Jerzy Bański

Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) tom 94, zeszyt 2
doi: https://doi.org/10.7163/PrzG.2022.2.2

Further information

Abstract:

Small towns have specific social, economic and cultural features that distinguish them from medium-sized and large urban centres on the one hand, and rural areas on the other. They are a significant component in the settlement structures of regions that determine their polycentricity or monocentricity. At present it is possible to observe a rise in the level of functional diversity characterising small towns i.a. as a result of the ongoing economic diversification of rural areas. In part this also reflects small centres taking on certain urban functions that had previously been the preserve of large cities, or at least urban centres of medium size.

A reconnaissance of the tasks small towns discharge on a local or regional scale typically entails analysis of dominant economic sectors, or – more broadly – the role different socioeconomic spheres play in the given centre and its immediate surroundings. It is to this kind of subject matter that the work described here has been devoted, with the basic aim being to discuss and assess different classifications and research approaches to small towns that take their social and economic functions into account, as well as relations with surrounding areas. However, the very concept of the small town poses certain problems, not least because definitions generally simplify down to the criterion of population size. Depending on the country, the size criterion differs and is generally in the range 5000‑25,000 inhabitants.

The subject literature typically includes three types of approach to the classification of small towns: 1) the structural, 2) the location-related, and 3) the mixed. Each differs from the others in terms of the criteria defined, and the functions served by the minor urban centres taken account of. The structural approach allows for the grouping of towns from the point of view of the social, cultural and economic functions they discharge. Typically, structural classifications tend to single out the leading economic sector represented in the given town, allowing each to be analysed individually. This approach may be either static or dynamic, with the first case entailing reference to a given time at which categories identified offer information on socioeconomic structure. In contrast, a dynamic approach sees the degree of variability of such structures analysed, with this making it possible to indicate categories of town discernible in line with identified directions and rates of development.

The location-related approach draws on the idea of there being a continuum between the centre and the periphery, with significance therefore attached to the location of a given small urban centre vis-à-vis large centres undergoing development to the greatest extent. In very general terms, this approach allows a distinction to be drawn between satellite towns located in the zone of impact of large agglomerations and metropolises, towns that are traditional foci of the settlement network, and centres in isolated locations out on the peripheries. Location is rarely the sole element used to differentiate between small urban centres; and it is present regularly as just one among a number of criteria by which a classification or typology can be arrived at. We are then dealing with a so-called mixed approach. A mixed classification making simultaneous use of the different approaches to research brings the most information to bear in regard to categories of urban locality, but their results may therefore prove hard to interpret, given the more-complex research procedure and number of possible classes, categories or types.

Bearing in mind the approaches to classification, it is possible to propose a synthetic method for classifying small towns that takes account of economic structure, location, and the relationship between the towns and their surroundings. In the case of economic structure, the small centres may be divided into two basic groups – those featuring a multi-branch structure, and those that are specialised economically. A second element to the classification reflects the locations of urban centres. Two basic types can be identified – the small town within the range of impact of a large agglomeration, or else the town outside such areas – which is to say located peripherally. The third component of the classification arises out of small towns’ relations with their surroundings – as 1) local centres or 2) supra-local centres. In consequence, it is possible to indicate 8 types of small town.

Keywords: małe miasto, struktura funkcjonalne, klasyfikacja, typologia, rozwój lokalny

Jerzy Bański [jbanski@twarda.pan.pl], Instytut Geografii i Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania im. S. Leszczyckiego PAN