On the basis of the analysis and interpretation of maps, published literature, and environmental reconnaissance, this article discusses environmental transformations in the area of the Kuźnica Warężyńska sand mine in southern Poland over the years 1944–2015. A comprehensive ecological analysis was carried out concerning spatial development, mining activity, hydrogeological and hydrological conditions as well as the biotic environment. Among the unfavourable changes found were a drastic reduction in the agricultural function of the area (from 7.03 to 0.47 km2
), mainly due to periodic activity of sand mine in 1967–2002, covering an area of about 5.80 km2
, the destruction of the original biocenoses, the depletion and deterioration in quality of the groundwater resources, and man-made transformations of the hydrographic network (during the mine’s activity its length reached over 103 km). Vegetation changes during the 70-year period examined were closely related to human mining activity. The greatest changes occurred at the end of the 1960s when large areas of pine forest were cut down. The analysis of vegetation in the former workings demonstrated that the diversity of habitats within the workings results in a significant increase in species (367 plant species, 2002 birds) and community diversity (Molinion caeruleae
, Molinion caeruleae,
three Natura habitats) there compared to the adjacent areas. On the other hand, favourable changes included the construction of a flood control reservoir, with an area of 560 ha and a volume of 51 million m3
, created in 2003–2005, making the area more attractive for tourism and recreation, and an increase in biodiversity, including the establishment of a Natura 2000 site.
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