For thousands of years, the sand dunes in northwestern Poland have been moving. At an average rate of 10 meters (32 feet) per year, the dunes at Słowinski National Park are blown by the volatile winds coming off the Baltic Sea that push the sand further inland and ever higher, swallowing tall pines and changing the biosphere of the area every year.
Unique in all of Europe and remarkable for their persistence and height, these coastal mountains are surrounded by ocean on one side with dune-locked lakes and forests on the other. But the 40 meter (131 feet) tall dunes are slowly overtaking the trees and where once tall, proud pines held sway, only fossilized tips poke out of the top of the mounds now.
The native people of the area who have lived in the swamps and marshy woodlands near the dunes for hundreds of years claim that at least one entire village lies underneath the sand, a victim to the blowing winds and shifting soil. Scientists agree that the three large lakes in the national park were once bays that were closed in by the tenacious movement of the dunes. Today, the park is a protected World Biosphere Reserve inhabited by rare birds and fish who make a home in the ever changing marshy woodlands around the sandy hills.