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Bia?owie?a Forest, Poland

Bia?owie?a Forest is one of the last and largest remaining parts of the immense primeval forest that once stretched across the European Plain. The forest is home to 800 European bison, Europe’s heaviest land animal. The forest has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and an EU Natura 2000 Special Area of Conservation. It straddles the border between Belarus (Brest Voblast and Hrodna Voblast) and Poland (Podlaskie Voivodeship), and is located 70 km (43 mi) north of Brest, Belarus and 62 km (39 mi) southeast of Bia?ystok, Poland. Since the border between the two countries runs through the forest, there is a border crossing available for hikers and cyclists.

On the Polish side, part of the Bia?owie?a Forest is protected as the Bia?owie?a National Park (Polish: Bia?owieski Park Narodowy), with general area of about 105 km2 (41 sq mi). There is also the Bia?owie?a Glade (Polish: Polana Bia?owieska), with a complex of buildings once owned by the tsars of Russia during the Partitions of Poland. At present, a hotel and restaurant with a parking lot is located there. Guided tours into the strictly controlled areas of the park can be arranged on foot, bike or by horse-drawn carriage. Approximately 120,000 – 150,000 tourists visit the Polish part of the forest annually. Among the group-offers are the birdwatching with local ornithologist, watching bison in their natural environment, and sledge as well as carriage rides, with a bonfire. Nature expert guides can also be found in the nearby urban centres. The popular village of Bia?owie?a lies within the forest. Bia?owie?a means the White Tower in Old Polish.

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