Przegląd Geograficzny (2022) vol. 94, iss. 1

Illegal motorised tourism in the State Forests in Poland

Dagmara Chylińska, Krzysztof Kołodziejczyk

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

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