Protected areas of Poland
There are 23 national parks in Poland. These were formerly run by the Polish Board of National Parks (Krajowy Zarząd Parków Narodowych), but in 2004 responsibility for them was transferred to the Ministry of the Environment. Most national parks are divided into strictly and partially protected zones. Additionally, they are usually surrounded by a protective buffer zone called otulina.
According to the Act on Protection of Nature (Ustawa o ochronie przyrody) of 2004, a Landscape Park (Parki Krajobrazowe) is defined as "an area protected because of its natural, historical, cultural and scenic values, for the purpose of conserving and popularizing those values in conditions of balanced development." There are 121 designated Landscape Parks throughout Poland, covering a total area of approximately 25,000 square kilometres (10,000 sq mi).
Nature reserves cover a total area of 1,644,634 hectares (4,063,980 acres), representing 0.53% of the territory of Poland. As of 2011, Poland has 1469 nature reserves. The Nature reserves in Poland are divided into categories: fauna (141), landscape (108), forest (722), peat-bog (177), flora (169), water (44), inanimate nature (72), steppe (32) and halophyte (4). Another division is into the regular and strict nature reserves; the strict ones see no human activity, whereas the regular one see limited maintenance.
Protected landscape areas (Polish: obszary chronionego krajobrazu) belong to some of the least restrictive zones of protection, with focus on qualified tourism and outdoor recreation. There were 419 protected landscape areas in Poland as of December 31, 2008 covering an area of 7,058,000 hectares (17,440,000 acres), or slightly over 23% of the country.
Natura 2000 designated areas
- Site of Community Importance (Polish: Obszar mający znaczenie dla Wspólnoty) locations that contribute significantly to the maintenance or restoration at a favorable conservation status of a natural habitat type. 
- Special Area of Conservation (Polish: Specjalny obszar ochrony siedlisk, SOOS) 
Other designated sites
- Geological "documentary sites" (Polish: stanowiska dokumentacyjne)
- Over 6,000 "ecological sites" (Polish: użytki ekologiczne)
- "Nature and landscape complexes" (Polish: zespoły przyrodniczo-krajobrazowe)
- About 33,000 natural monuments (mainly trees, also some caves etc.)
Poland also has the following internationally designated sites:
UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are environment-protected scientific-research institutions of international status that are created with the intent for conservation in a natural state the most typical natural complexes of biosphere, conducting background ecological monitoring, studying of the surrounding natural environment, its changes under the activity of anthropogenic factors.
Biosphere Preserves are created on the base of nature preserves or national parks including to their composition territories and objects of other categories of nature-preserving fund and other lands as well as including in the established order the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in the UNESCO framework "Man and the Biosphere Programme". There are 9 Biosphere Reserves in Poland.
World Heritage Sites
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place (such as a forest, mountain, lake, island, desert, monument, building, complex, or city) that is listed by UNESCO as sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance to the common heritage of humanity. There are fourteen World Heritage Sites in Poland (1[note 1] Natural and 13[note 2][note 3] Cultural). The first two sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Three of the sites, Belovezhskaya Pushcha / Białowieża Forest, Wooden Tserkvas of Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine and Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski are shared with neighboring countries (Belarus, Ukraine and Germany). Poland also has six sites on the Tentative List.
Ramsar Convention sites
The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands, i.e., to stem the progressive encroachment on and loss of wetlands now and in the future, recognizing the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands and their economic, cultural, scientific, and recreational value. Since the convention became effective in Poland on 22 March 1978, the designation of Wetland of International Importance has been applied to thirteen locations in the country, which combine to form an area of 145,075 ha (358,490 acres).
- Act on Protection of Nature, 2004, published by the Polish Parliament
- Kancelaria Sejmu (April 16, 2004), Act on Protection of Nature (USTAWA z dnia 16 kwietnia 2004 r. o ochronie przyrody) See: Article 16 (1). PDF file, direct download 329 KB. Internet Archive. Retrieved July 10, 2013.
- Fundacja WFF (February 7, 2011). "SPFF - parki narodowe/krajobrazowe i rezerwaty przyrody w SP (National and Landscape Parks, Nature Reserves; Poland)" (PDF FILE, DIRECT DOWNLOAD 66.9 KB). Polska Flora & Fauna (SPFF). Retrieved 11 July 2013.
- Dariusz Bochenek (ed.). "Ochrona środowiska 2012" (PDF). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. p. 278. ISSN 0867-3217. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Dariusz Bochenek (ed.). "Ochrona środowiska 2012" (PDF). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. p. 277. ISSN 0867-3217. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Dariusz Bochenek (ed.). "Ochrona środowiska 2012" (PDF). Warszawa: Główny Urząd Statystyczny. p. 286. ISSN 0867-3217. Retrieved 2012-12-29.
- Teresa Podgórska; Zbigniew Sierota (2010). Las - człowiek... człowiek - las. Lasy Państwowe. p. 110. ISBN 978-83-61633-19-8. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
- Obszary chronionego krajobrazu. 2009, Meridian.
- "The Birds Directive". Environment. European Union.
- SCI definition in the Directive
- SAC definition in the Directive
- "World Heritage".
- "The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands". Retrieved 6 November 2013.
- "Ramsar List" (PDF). Ramsar.org. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- "Ramsar Briefing Notes - Poland". Ramsar.org. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Sienkiewicz, Jadwiga (2008). Ramsar sites in Poland. Warsaw: Institute of Environmental Protection. p. 70. ISBN 8360312850.
- The natural site Belovezhskaya Pushcha / Białowieża Forest is shared between Belarus and Poland.
- The cultural site Muskauer Park / Park Mużakowski is shared between Germany and Poland.
- The cultural site "Wooden Tserkvas of Carpathian Region in Poland and Ukraine" is shared between Poland and Ukraine