Poland Livestock, Forests and Fishing
Livestock breeding. – Farming presents different aspects according to the regions. In the western voivodships, in the center and in part in the southern ones, due to the industrialization of farms, the farming for meat is giving up land in front of that for the production of milk; in the eastern voivodships, on the other hand, due to the abundance of meadows and pastures, the breeding of working and slaughter animals developed above all. The war caused serious damage to the livestock population of Poland, which, moreover, managed to reconstitute it very quickly, as can be seen from the previous table (data in thousands of heads).
According to nexticle, the greatest wealth of livestock occurred in 1931: the subsequent decrease is essentially due to the world economic crisis, which led to a considerable reduction in exports abroad and therefore forced a lower production. For the absolute number of horses, Poland ranks 5th among all countries (after the USSR, the United States, Argentina and Brazil), 2nd among European countries. Eastern Poland is the richest in equines: here they have almost everywhere more than 200 for every 1000 residents, and in some districts of the Volhyn and Białystok voivodeships there are even more than 300 heads (average of the whole country, 155 every 1000 residents). Cattle are particularly numerous in Posnania, Pomerania, Polessia and the Carpathian region: in these regions there are more than 400 head per 1000 residents, and in some districts even the 600 heads (average of the whole country, 373 per 1000 residents). For sheep (an average of 109 head per 1000 residents) North-eastern Poland (voivodeships of Vilna, Nowogródek, Białystok and Polessia: over 200 head per 1000 residents, in some districts more than 400) prevails, but they are numerous also in Pomerania and on the Carpazî. Pomerania and Posnania are the regions richest in pigs (almost all the districts have more than 400 pigs per 1000 residents, and many exceed 600 heads; the average of the whole country (of 238). Poland is surpassed in Europe only by Germany, the USSR and France It should be remembered that in 1933 there were also 188,000 goats.
The breeding of poultry, geese and turkeys is very important. It is estimated that the production of eggs, largely exported especially to Germany, is around 2 billion per year.
Land reform. – Land reform was not as radical in Poland as in other European states (Romania, Estonia), and the conditions of ownership were only partially changed. The law of July 15, 1920 relating to the implementation of the reform, already decided by the Legislative Diet on July 10, 1919, especially as regards the subdivision of the lands, contained numerous procedural defects, among which the one which established that for the expropriated lands should pay compensation equal to half of the average value of the lands themselves, when art. 99 of the Polish Constitution of March 17, 1921 establishes that, in the event of expropriation of lands, their value must be paid in full. A new law was then passed by the Diet on December 28, 1925, which, taking advantage of the experience acquired in the previous five years, he eliminated these shortcomings in the procedure and established one by which the interests of the expropriated persons were defended and at the same time the execution of expropriations was guaranteed, but only in necessary cases. In order to be expropriated and divided into lots, the properties must exceed an area which, according to the regions, varies between 60 and 300 hectares. Badly managed properties can also be expropriated. Until 1924 the expropriated and subdivided lands included 600,000 hectares, obtained mainly in the voivodships of Warsaw, Kielce and Krakow. After 1925 the subdivision of the estates was accelerated and in 1933 the expropriated area had risen to 2,187,900 hectares. Many lands of Posnania and Polish Pomerania formerly belonging to German landowners have been distributed to ex-combatants, which were also given numerous lands of the sparsely populated eastern regions. According to the 1921 census, 34% of the agricultural area consisted of properties with less than 2 hectares, 30.7% of those with 2-5 hectares, 32% of those with 5-20 hectares. Properties with 20-50, 50-100 and more than 100 hectares yielded 2.3, 0.4 and 0.6% respectively. Even before the agrarian reform, therefore, the ownership was very fragmented, and the estates constituted a relatively small area. No more recent data are known regarding ownership splitting, but it is obvious that following the reform the surface area of small properties must be considerably increased.
The agrarian reform had a beneficial influence on production, which has been growing and improving, also because cooperativism has spread very widely.
Forests. – During the sec. In the nineteenth century there was considerable deforestation in all regions of Poland, caused by the development of industries, the construction of roads and railways and the increasing foreign demand for timber. However, the country’s forest area remains one of the largest in Europe, accounting for more than a fifth of the state’s total area. 65% of the forest area is made up of pines, 10% of picee, 5% of fir trees, the 5th of oaks, 15% of other broad-leaved trees, especially birch, ash, beech, hornbeam, then also lime trees, poplars, maples, alders,, etc. The resinous species have the absolute preponderance.
Almost ⅓ of the forests belong to the state, which also supervises those of private individuals. The largest forests are found in NE Poland. (Białowieża forest, SE. of Białystok, which with that of Swisłocz has 114,378 hectares; Augustów forest, near Suwałki, with 82,150 hectares of surface; Międzyrzecz forest, in S. of Vilna, which covers 49,175 hectares, etc.), in Polessia, in northern Volhynia and in the Carpathian region. Exploitation has not yet reached the development that would be desirable, nor is it always conducted with modern and rational criteria. Productivity is low also because the consequences of the negligence with which the Russian administration took care of the forests, and the consequences of the destruction and damage caused by the war, are still being felt. Annually the production of timber is around 23 million cubic meters, 40-50% of which is given by firewood, and the rest by timber for construction. The production of the state forests in the five-year period 1928-1932 averaged 7 million cubic meters.
Fishing. – Sea fishing, which may not have much importance due to the narrowness of the Polish coast, is still only coastal and has little progress. There are about 1500 fishermen, and (1933) they have 173 motor boats and 713 other boats, sailing or rowing; mainly sprat, salmon, eel, herring and cod are caught. The average annual production of 1929-33 was 52,700 q. fish (of which 34,500 data sprat), for a value of 1.7 million z ³ oty. Hel is the largest fishing center, but all those on the Hel peninsula are fishing villages. The government tries to encourage the development of sea fishing and to this end has created an office in Gdynia which supplies fishermen with the necessary items, lends them loans and helps their cooperatives. The University of Poznań then equipped a marine biology laboratory in Hel.
Freshwater fishing is naturally more considerable than sea fishing, due to the large extent occupied by inland waters. Artificial ponds for fish farming are frequent in Posnania and central Poland. The production of fresh water seems to be around 100-120 thousand q. of fish per year. For now, the total production of fisheries covers only about 15% of the country’s demand (in which, moreover, the consumption of fish is very small).