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Touristic-educational Railway in Knyszynska Primeval Forest


Detailed description of the Good Practice

In XIX-XX century very wide networks or separate units of narrow-gauge railways were constructed, serving eg. sugar-plant with farmers producing sugar-beets in vicinity, very short ones - serving brick-yards or - serving forest area with intensive exploitation of forest resources; Gradually truck transportation replaced all narrow-gauge railways, which became uneconomical (?). In Poland this process started in 1970s, and until now in early XXI century process is going on. What is worse - it is exposed to dismantling the track and all facilities (very often - simply robbery of rail track, devastation of facilities (buildings,all technical infrastructure). It is the case of the reconstruction of the old railway in Knyszynska Primeval Forest for touristic and educational purposes. Connecting Bialystok with two existing didactic paths in Knyszynska Forest will have a huge potential for further development and self-financing if properly managed and with good marketing.
Project is prepared by fans of narrow-gauge railway facing big barriers to overcome from monopolistic railway state company, other owners of these tracks (eg. forest authority) and pressure from poor people devastating track, stealing anything that is made of steel (just to sell as a scrap metal).

urban-rural planning

Objectives of the Good Practice

Project aims at reconstruction of partially destroyed/ robbed forest narrow-gauge railway and introduction of eco-tourism based on sustainable transportation from the big town (Bialystok) to recreational area of Knyszynska Forest.

Participants of the Good Practice

Local government

Target group of the Good Practice

citizens, tourists

Funding of the Good Practice

This Project is part of the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented in collaboration with UNDP

More Details of the Good Practice

Project is implemented successfully with one year delay due to unexpected barriers: 1.initial very hostile, jealous attitude of track owner - forest authority, that was gradually overcome during 2 years; very unfriendly attitude of the road management (track is passing through the regional and state roads, reconstruction of the track had to receive permission for works from these authorities) forcing our grantee to very lengthy procedures, growing number of permissions and necessary, before never claimed, technical permissions and studies, technical designs. Many of these claims, which at the end of the day creates delays were caused by the lack of knowledge concerning changed laws, rules and simply - sometimes the lack of good will from responsible institutions perceiving reconstruction of narrow-gauge railway as a funny game of some crazy people.

On the other hand - information about reconstruction and plans for tourism (possible extra income for local people) caused - declining number of cases of stealing the track; people started to see reconstruction as their own project, serving their land, serving potentially them.

Local government was providing resources for hiring jobless people for reconstruction works.
Despite various formal barriers and unexpected demands - we can report about success - 18km is reconstructed and it is good ground for further developments. Official opening was planned for Spring 2006, meanwhile some other and extra funds are necessary to finish completely the first stage, which enable full operations and some earnings covering costs of maintenance and generating income for further reconstruction?

Documentation and documents

Available files

Contact details

SGP Poland
Al. Niepodleglosci 186,
Warsaw, 00-608

Tel: ext 259, 258
Fax: (48-22) 825 49 58
E-mail: przemek.czajkowski@undp.org
Web site: http://www.gef.undp.org.pl

Data sources and references

EST goes East Cleaning House
http://fr1.estis.net/sites/esteastpl/default.asp?site=esteastpl&page_id=D7660ECE-07D9-454D-A126-C656E04C88D2 (Accessed July, 27, 2009)