Regional Monitoring of Natural Environment 2004, No 5, 7-44
ALOJZY KOWALKOWSKI – THE PROFESSOR, SCIENTIST AND EDUCATOR
Professor Alojzy Kowalkowski, with shoulders slightly moved forward as if he wanted to be closer to the nature to investigate it, constantly arouses the admiration of his colleagues and students. In spite of being 80 years old, he constantly walks up a difficult mountainous route to the Integrated Monitoring Station in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains no matter of the weather condition.
He is a true Professor – as students of the Świętokrzyska Academy in Kielce speak about him – the advocate of the modern science, always open and ready to discussions. A characteristic skill of Professor Kowalkowski is an unusual ability of detail perception as well as formulation of conclusions. It enables him to formulate fundamental problems to be solved and assumption to prove in order to explain the problems. He is a titan of work. His saying: „… when I am tired with one work, I will switch to the other one” is popular among his colleagues and this is what pushes them to work with him. We were lucky that his inclination to scientific investigations brought the Professor from Poznań, by Warsaw to the Świętokrzyskie Mountains.
He was born on the 26th November 1924 in Małżewie, the Tczew county, in a teacher’s family. He completed a primary school in the same town. His geographical and cartographical passion dates back to times when he attended the Physical-Mathematical Grammar School in Gniew (1938-1939), and later the General Education Grammar School in Tczew. The latter school, he completed with a secondary-school certificate in 1947. Professor Kowalkowski deepened his interest in these fields during studies at the Forestry Faculty at the Poznań University in the years 1947–1951. During the second year of his studies, he was a voluntary assistant in the Department of Measurements and he conducted laboratory classes on measurements with students. This work, similarly as short-term employment (29.01. – 31.03. 1950) in the Department of Forest Management Planning of the contemporary State Forests Administration, the Poznań District, provided him a practical experience in the mentioned fields. During the 3rd year of studies, he was employed (from 1st April 1950) as an assistant in the Chair of Soil Science at the Poznań University and began intensive studies and works in the field of the soil cartography under supervision of Professor Felix Terlikowski. The effect of these studies were detailed soil and fecundity maps for 3 State Forest Districts and 2 State Fish Ponds.
Professor Kowalkowski completed his Master’s studies in 1951 in the field of agro-technical studies and forestry engineering with the thesis: “The Oak Forests located in the Krotoszyn clay-type soils”. He received a top mark for the thesis. Under the supervision of friendly Mikołaj Kwinichidze PhD – a later professor and Head of the Chair of Soil Science – he studied principles of dynamic bioecological interpretation of soils and within a didactic work he dealt with field and laboratory soil diagnostics.
A particular meaning for his further scientific development had the participation in the soil cartography project for the Soil Atlas of Poland in the scale 1:300 000. Professor Kowalkowski, as a young adept of the soil science, took part in preparing and editing of soil maps for: Szczecin, Poznań, Wrocław, Opole, Zbąszyń, Płock, Łódź i Bydgoszcz. He was also included into the Editing Board of the Soil Atlas of Poland wherein he worked on a concept and graphic layout of this publication under the management of Professor Arkadiusz Musierowicz. The Atlas became a base for elaboration of soil distribution in Poland in the scale 1:1 000 000 (1958) and maps of soils of Poland in the scale 1:500 000 (1972). Professor Kowalkowski was also invited by the Polish Soil Science Society (PTGleb), a groups of the most outstanding soil science specialists, to a team working on the modern classification of soils and soil nomenclature. The many-years joint projects ended with publications: „Natural and genetic classification of soils of Poland” (1958), “Genetic classification of soils of Poland” (1959), “Project of norms for description of soil profiles” (1963), “Project of nomenclature for soil levels” ((1960), “Dictionary of the Soil Science and of related sciences” (1964, 1967), “Project of the forest soil classification“ (1966). These elaborations had an essential theoretical and practical meaning. Their results were introduced to academic textbooks for the soil science published in Poland and implemented into the agricultural and forestry practices.
From the year 1954, thanks to grants received from the Committee of Forest Sciences – Polish Academy of Science (PAN) and from the Committee of Soil Sciences and Fertilization, Professor Kowalkowski, along with Zbigniew Prusinkiewicz MSc developed, a research program on soil proprieties in different soil mosaics and their relation to current plant communities in the Białowieża National Park. Simultaneously, he carried out the research on the genesis and proprieties of black Pyrzyce soils. The research was extended over Northern, Central and Southern Poland. In this research, and also during preparation of detailed soil maps for agricultural and herbal farms, he pointed out problems of time sequence of the soil formation environment and soils stratigraphy along with the influence of weather conditions of the periglacial environment on the soil profile structure. Professor Kowalkowski proved the indicatory value of the semi-fossil molluscan fauna in soil levels and layers for the recognition of ecological conditions of the soil formation in the past.
The influence of denudation and periglacial accumulation along with ice processes on the formation of soil profiles was already a subject the investigation within his doctoral thesis “Water conditions and some soil proprieties in the oak stands in the area of Wągrowiec (on the example of the Dębina Forest District)”. The thesis defense took place at the Agricultural Faculty of Agricultural University in Poznań in December 1960. The thesis was published in Fascicles of the Committee for Agricultural and Forest Sciences in 1961.
In his PhD thesis, for the first time in the Polish soil science, he formulated the course of yearly humidity distribution in the dynamic system of investigated soils on the basis of the humidity dynamics and profile formation of physical and chemical proprieties of soils. The research of Professor Kowalkowski on the dynamics of water conditions in forest soils proved that features of former climate conditions are still present in soils and granulative differentiation in soil profiles has often a relict character. This problems were and still are subjects of the Professor Kowalkowski’s research within a creative many-year cooperation with Professor Klaus-Dieter Jäger from the Halle University and Dietrich Kopp PhD from the Forest Institute in Eberswalde.
In the 60-ties of the 20th century further scientific activities of Professor Kowalkowski were significantly influenced by professors: Bogumił Krygowski from the Institute of Geography, Poznań University, and especially Jan Dylik from the Institute of Geography. Łódź University along with Alfred Jahn from the Institute of Geography, Wrocław University who formed a well-known in the world periglacial school those times.
In years 1962 – 1970 Professor Kowalkowski, after receiving a grant from PAN and PTGleb, develops the research on interpretation of features and proprieties in soil profiles of the non-biological origin. A habilitation thesis „Main directions of the soils development in the morphogenetic environment of the Dalkowskie Hills” was the effects of this research. The habilitation colloquium took place at the Agricultural Faculty of the Agricultural University in Poznan in November 1968. In this work, Professor Kowalkowski formulated an innovative thesis that in the periglacial environment mother-rocks were already subjects of carbonate outwashing. This process conditioned the migration of the colloid clay and formation of levels enriched with the clay. The hitherto research connected these levels with the warm climate of the Holocene. He has also described a new type of brown soils and connected their genesis with the periglacial environment of the late Pleistocene.
The research on the ice transformation of slope soil covers along with the soil interpretation called out the interest in the European centers of soil science. The results are cited, among others, in the textbook „Lehrbuch der Bodenkunde” (Scheffer&Schachtschabel 1976). The later research proved that productiveness of soils and their susceptibility to the erosion are conditioned by the degree of the periglacial covers formation and their preservation in the Holocene.
In 1970, Professor Kowalkowski ended his work in Poznań and accepted a regular post as a Head of the Department of Soil Science and Forest Fertilization in the Forestry Research Institute (IBL) in Warsaw. During his work in IBL he continued the research on relations between genetic levels and periglacial covers. Professor Kowalkowski proved, in opposition to contemporary ideas, that the concept of extraperiglacial disturbances from the Holocene should be extended to anthropogenic disturbances with the thickness from 40 to 200 cm and biogenic disturbances with the thickness up to 40 cm connected with the organic matter accumulation.
In the 70-ies Professor Kowalkowski worked out and introduced a practical schema of the typological, cartographical and regional taxonomies of soil systems distinguished on the basis of diagnostic units. Professor Kowalkowski joined and actively worked on the information system on the soil environment BIGLEB as he noticed a necessity to systemize of features characterizing basic soil units and their components along with the circumjacent environment. In 1978 he became a coordinator of a project Cartography of Soils in the Forest Environment KAL –BIGLEB. The main purpose of this project was to collect and transform the scientific information and optimal utilization of information on soils, forest stands and their environment.
While working on a problem of relationships between periglacial covers and profile structure and proprieties of present soils, Professor Kowalkowski noticed a necessity of the research on fossil soils of the periglacial origin and found in the contemporary periglacial environment. The research was possible due to receiving a financial grant from the Committee for the Quaternary Research PAN, Institute of Geography PAN and Polish Soil Science Society. As a result he found that it is possible to interpret the former soil formation environment on the basis of recognized soil and sediment morphology along with sets of analyses from obtained samples. Features of different processes (cryogenic, biogenic, chemical, etc.) can overlap on the same levels or they can form sequences of levels with a morphology similar to podzolic soils, brown soils etc. Professor Kowalkowski found also that brown soils existed already in the late Pleistocene and are connected with a cold climate of the periglacial environment. The participation into the Mongolian-Polish Physical-Geographical Scientific Expedition of Polish and Mongolian Academies of Science in the years 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978 along with the soil research in Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Andes, the Bunger Oasis, China and in Australia helped him to confirm that the interpretation of soils should take into account features of soil formation changes and of their time sequences in a greater degree, especially in conditions of the late Pleistocene with overlapping contradictory factors of the soil development.
The second field of the Professor Kowalkowski’s interests, dating back to his professional work in Poznań when in 1961 he changed from the Department of Soil Science to a newly established Chair of Cultivation and Fertilization at the Horticultural Faculty WSR , was the issue of forest soil fertilization. He concentrated on the circulation of water and nutrients in the soil environment, influence of mineral fertilization on this circulation and relationship between development and distribution of root systems in forest trees and some cultivated plants and with proprieties of each soil level. During his work for IBL he developed a program of the organizational structure of the forest fertilization which assumed that the mineral fertilization is an intervention of supplementing with mineral components which already circulate in the soil-plant system. The results were presented during a meeting of specialists from RWPG in 1972. The mail purpose of this program was to recreate and maintain an active and dynamically balanced circulation of mineral and organic nutrients in forest ecosystems. The problem of mineral fertilization of the forest was a subject of the research in the cooperation with other RWPG countries in the years 1971 – 1985.
Due to needs of forest practices connected with realization of the program of timber production intensification and forest protection in the areas threatened by the industrial emissions Professor Kowalkowski begun work on: 1 – improvement of assessment methods of fertilization of pine stands in different habitat conditions; 2 – utilization of nutrients from fertilization and from the soil by pine stands in different habitat; 3 – qualification of factors and conditions influencing effectiveness of mineral fertilization; 4 – influence of mineral fertilization on the biological condition, humification, biological activities and proprieties of caries in forest soils on symbiotic fungi of the pine; 5 – improvement of ground and aerial methods of mineral fertilization of the forest and forest seedling plantations.
Such a wide range of the research could be undertaken due to concentration of highly qualified scientific staff and technical personnel around him, establishing well equipped laboratories and a system of experimental plots located in forests all over the country.
In the year 1970 Professor Kowalkowski undertook the monitoring research on the influence of the Nitric Factory in Puławy on distribution of mineral components in forest soil profiles along with possibilities of restitution of forest functions in the forest ecosystem under long term disturbance in the Forest Administration District in Puławy. The research has been still carried out by Professor.
In 1985 Professor Alojzy Kowalkowski accepted a post in the Higher Pedagogical School in Kielce (presently the Świętokrzyska Academy). In 1987 he was granted a professor title of forestry sciences. He established a Department of Soil Geography and Nature Protection within the Institute of Geography. On the basis of his experience gained in WHO UN, in 1971, USA, Japan and Denmark in the field of organization of environmental monitoring systems as well as many-year direct relations with authors of the projects Bornhöveder Seenkette in Kiel, Forest Ecosystems in Gottingen, Höglwald in Nonachium and Arinus in Freiburgu, Professor Kowalkowski started to work on a concept of the natural environment monitoring system in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains according to technical rules implemented in Western countries.
In years 1988-1990, thanks to the financial grant obtained from the Ministry of Education, he conducted the preliminary research on the monitoring concept and scientific bases of rational location of the monitoring station. On the basis of this research there was accepted an assumption that in the Świętokrzyski Region forest ecosystems are under strong anthropogenic pressure which causes opposed processes of strong alkalization and acidification from the atmosphere. In the area of so called the White Basin (1032 km2) there was found a shift in ranges of the soil bufferness from exchangeable to silicate and carbonate as a consequence of prolonged emission of calcium and cement dusts emitted by the Cement and Calcareous Plant in Sitkówka-Nowiny and Małogoszcz. A result of alkalization was a change in habitat conditions, reflected in forest ecosystems by displacing the coniferous forest species by the species typical for sunny forests. In large areas of the region, prevailing beyond the range of alkaline emissions, the constant acidic emission from the atmospheric air was found. It caused progressive acidification of soils and their basements to the levels of aluminium and iron bufferness, creating unfavorable developmental conditions for the flora and of soil fauna. Especially toxically endangered can be the root development environment of trees and shrubs. A post-effect is strong acidification of soil, , underground and surface waters.
The Integrated Monitoring Station was built by Professor Kowalkowski thanks to winning a KBN tender for scientific research for the years 1991-1993 with a project “Evolution and present environmental processes in the Świętokrzyski Region” and with a prominent help from the Provincial Administration Office in Kielcach. This station has been included into the national network of Integrated Monitoring Base Stations of the Natural Environment. Additionally, it is involved in the research on the quality of the natural environment of the Świętokrzyskie Province – especially the air pollution investigations realized by the Provincial Inspectorate of the Environment Protection in Kielce. Moreover, the Station provides an experimental base for young scientists and for development of educational programs for students coming from all over Poland.
As an effect of continuous scientific cooperation with the forestry in Poland, Professor Kowalkowski was appointed to different teams of the Polish Soil Science Society (PTGleb) which worked out presently binding standards: classification of forest soils of Poland (2000), instruction for classification and cartography of forest habitats (2003), habitat foundations for the forestry (2004) which are annexes to the Rules of the Forest Management (2003).
In 1995 Professor Kowalkowski was retired but he did not finish his scientific and organizational activities. He negotiated an agreement between two leading universities in Kielce – the contemporary High Pedagogical School and the Technical University, and with the European Institute for Postgraduate Education from Dresden (Germany), where he is a member. Within this agreement, in 1996 a foreign center EIPOS Kielce was established. Professor Kowalkowski became a Vice-President, and from 2003 a President. In the EIPOS Kielce he took part in elaboration and realization of a large project TEMPUS-PHARE “The European integrative study on the environment in Poland” and in the project “The strategy of introduction of the environmental management system in municipal and industrial agglomerations in Poland”. Additionally, he actively participated in the research of the Integrated Monitoring Station. In the years 1998-2001 he actively participated in the scientific research finances by KBN – a grant No No. 5 PO6H 025 15 “The dynamics of the organic matter circulation in forests ecosystems exposed to acidic and alkaline emissions”. Presently, he is a main researcher within a scientific grant of KBN No. 2 PO4E 015 26 – “Geographically conditioned trends and discontinuation of development of podzolic soils – their genetic and ecological aspects”. He is a founder and a member of Editorial Board and a co-editor of the year-book „Regional Monitoring of the Natural Environment” issued by the Kielce Scientific Society (KTN) and the Integrated Monitoring Station of the Świętokrzyska Academy. Additionally, he is a member of the Publishers Council „Archio für Naturschutz und Landschafts forschung” in Greifswald.
In his scientific work, Professor Alojzy Kowalkowski is unusually creative. Up to the year 2003 he has published 462 various works, including 146 of dissertations, studies and monographs, 281 papers and scientific notes (127 published abroad), 35 maps, manuals and textbooks (a full list presented in the annex).
The research results he presented during numerous (the number not specified) international congresses, conferences and scientific symposia. Till 1995 he was an active member of the International Soil Science Society ISSS, International Union for Quaternary INQUA, International Union of Forest Research Organizations IUFRO as well as he was a founder and a member of International Association of Geomorphologists IAG. He took part in a Bilateral Cooperation of German and Polish Geographers, Latin-America Conference and in Antarctic Expeditions of the Polish Academy of Science (PAN). He was a member of numerous Committees of PAN: Soil Sciences and of Farming Chemistry, Forest Sciences, Quaternary Research, Mountainous Areas Management. He is also a worthy correspondent member of the German Soil Science Society.
Professor Kowalkowski has prepared a vast number unpublished reports, assessments and other works which have practical application, 16 reviews of PhD theses, 17 habilitation theses, including 4 foreign ones, and 4 reviews of the applications to the professor titles.
The Professor’s didactic and educational activities are also very impressive. He carried out lectures, seminars and classes on the soil science, soil geography, geoecology and environment protection for students of geography, biology and chemistry in the Higher School of Education in Kielce . He gave lectures at postgraduate courses at SGGW -WR in Warsaw on the forest nutrition and reaction of plants on fertilization. Presently, he is a lecturer in the Postgraduate Studies of the Environment Protection Department at the Forestry Faculty of the Agricultural University in Kraków and in the Part-time Forestry Doctoral Study of IBL in Warsaw. He was a supervisor of 147 master’s theses. He promoted five doctors and one PhD thesis is in the course. He cooperated very willingly with the Student’s Scientific Association of Geographers, with whom he regularly organized scientific camps in the filed of ecology and the environment protection. He carried out this activity till his retirement. He also organized a student scientific camp in Sweden and international student exchange with the University in Greifswald.
Professor Kowalkowski was a Vice Director of the Institute of Geography, WSP in Kielce, a member of the Senate, a Chairman of the Senate Committee for Development and Investments, a member of the Editorial Committee of Publishers (WSP Kielce) and a Chairman of the Disciplinary Committee for Academic Teachers. Outside the university he was member of: Scientific Committee of the Świętokrzyski National Park (presently he is a chairman), Scientific Council of the Institute of Nature Protection PAN, Council of Experts of the National Forestry Section of the Labor Union “Solidarity” (NSZZ “Solidarność”) and an active member of scientific societies, including the Kielce Scientific Society wherein he was a Chairman of the Revisory Committee. On the national level he took part in the social project of the Forest and Forestry Management Law and the project of the agriculture reform.
The scientific, didactic and organizational contribution of Professor Kowalkowski were many times awarded with various prizes, among others The Cross of the Revival of Poland (1988), The Medal of the National Education Committee (1995), the golden badge of the Polish Soil Science Society (1961), the silver badge of NOT (1976), the silver badge for Contribution for the Nature Protection and Water Management (1976), the golden honorary badge for Contribution to the Forestry development (2000), the silver medal of the Polish Centre for the Research and Certification in Warsaw for contributions in the propagation and initiation of quality systems in the environmental management (2004).
The scientific, didactic and organizational achievements of the Professor Alojzy Kowalkowski are widely and universally recognized in the country and abroad. He is still very active and creative. The quantity of persons who know and admire Professor is very impressive. At all scientific conference, which I took part in, the name of Professor Kowalkowski was always mentioned.
It is very nice to be able to provide information on the activity of Professor to persons who I did not even know and who, knowing that we cooperate, ask about him and sent him their regards.
At the end I would like to present my personal characterization of Professor expressed with one sentence:
Professor Alojzy Kowalkowski – the scientist absorbed with a passion of exploration and endeavour to discover the scientific truth is a strict and demanding MASTER, but simultaneously THE GREAT FRIEND attentive and always open to scientific discussions.