This research tries to analyze the landscape of the Polish region around Jelenia Góra with use of a model designed by Dean S. Rugg. This model divides the history of the region in several periods and analyses which changes are made in the landscape during the different periods of time.
The research question is “How has the landscape of Jelenia Góra been developing according to the layer model of Rugg, which layers are visible and which role does the post-communist layer play in the current development of the region?”
The goal of the research is to construct this “post-communist” layer, and to connect use the changes in the landscape as an explanation of what the influence of the European Union is in this region. To get to the newest layer, one must have some understanding of the history of the region. The first history discussed in this research is the Slavic period. Visible in the landscape through castle ruins, stone walls and through mythical character, this period forms the Slavic base on which the current Polish culture is formed.
The second layer is the layer of colonization and feudalism. Jelenia Góra was conquered by different kingdoms and rulers. It became Bohemian, Austrians, Prussian and German. Al these rulers and foreign domination has left its marks in the landscape. In this layer, the upcoming of small industries (mining, glass production), deforestation and agriculture has left the most important relics in the landscape.
After World War II the region became Polish again. Under the communist Polish government, there were no investments made in the region and it became a backward region. The communist policy destroyed touristic development, and the agriculture also diminished.
When the Berlin Wall disappeared in 1989 and the Soviet-Union came to an end in 1991, Poland turned towards Europe. This resulted in Polish European Union membership in 2004.
The most important changes in this post-communist landscape are seen in the disappearance of the last remaining farmers. Next to that there are lots of infrastructural and renovation projects running. Also, tourism is redeveloping in the region. Supported by the Euregion Nysa, touristic development is getting ahead.
On the other side, the European free market also attracts mining companies to the resourceful region of Jelenia Góra. Uranium, leucite, cobalt, gold, basalt are some of the minerals that can be found in the soil. The mining activities however, are completely irreconcilable with the development of tourism.
Also in the invisible landscape, Europe has its impact. Lots of projects that are seen as profitable for the local inhabitants, miss their effect on micro scale. People do not have enough money to finance their connection to the new built sewage, or to remove asbestos from their rooftops. Also, the changes in the European Agriculture (marketprices, hygiene protocols) have made it near impossible for the farmers to keep their businesses running. As a result, the last farmers are leaving the region, increasing unemployment rates in the research area.
So, the landscape of Jelenia Góra has been impacted in different periods of time by different rulers and developments. The most visible layers are the ones of the period of colonization and feudalism (900-1600), the periode of German domination (1800-1945) and the communist period (1945-1989). The role of the European Union in the current development in the region has two faces. On one hand, due to funding, regional development institutions (Euregion Nysa) and European policy, the region in developing in the direction of tourism. Slowly, more and more touristic facilities are being set up.
On the other hand, because of the European free market the mining activity is also increasing. This poses a great danger to the touristic development of the region.
How the ‘post-communist’ layer in the future will develop, we can only guess. But there is enough potential to develop the region of Jelenia Góra to the status it once had.||