We have compared historical changes in concentrations of the heavy metals Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb accumulated in samples from the Polish woodlands of Beskidy and Karkonosze (S, SE Poland) and the north-east regions of the country, versus the relatively little polluted areas of Spitsbergen of the Svalbard Archipelago. We have combined the results from literature with new results from 2014. The regions of Beskidy and Karkonosze were the most exposed to heavy metals deposition. However, from 1975 to 2014 there was a considerable decrease of concentrations of Cu, Zn, Cd and Pb at all Polish sites, clearly signifying improvement of environmental quality. For example, the average Cd concentration in mosses samples collected in Karkonosze decreased from 0.002 mg/g in 1975 to 0.0006 mg/g in 2014. It is interesting to observe relatively large concentrations of nickel in moss samples collected in 2014 in the Svalbard archipelago, in the vicinity of Longyearbyen (average 0.018 mg/g) which most likely originate from local mine waste piles.