Wetland & Coastal Management in the Odra Delta – a model for Mersehead?
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Wetland & Coastal Management in the Odra Delta – a model for Mersehead?

It was a great opportunity to be able to spend a week looking at the various types of parks and reserves in the Odra Delta and seeing the benefits and challenges of each. I think we were all blown away by how rich and diverse the wildlife and landscapes are, not just within the protected areas, but in the general landscape of the region as a whole.

The main issues facing protected areas and wildlife in general in Poland seems to be a familiar one, lack of funding, staffing and awareness, which is all too familiar a problem in the UK as well. Due to Poland’s history, many people do not feel a connection to the land and so one of the results is that volunteering is nearly non-existant, which is a shame as this could be a rich source of help that is currently unavailable. It will also be interesting to see how the reserves will cope with climate change; increased pressure from predation and invasive species is tied in to this (as seen at Ujscie Warty NP) and subsequently pressure on staff time and funding for projects to deal with this. Hopefully the diversity of the landscapes means that they are slightly more resilient than they are here in the UK and that people can be inspired to protect the amazing wildlife and landscape that they currently have.

The Hierarchy of Protected Areas in Poland & Comparison with Scotland
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The Hierarchy of Protected Areas in Poland & Comparison with Scotland

The level of protection afforded to different types of protected area in Poland is not dissimilar to that in Scotland. For example, in terms of the Natura 2000 network all EU countries have an obligation to transpose the Habitats and Birds Directives into domestic legislation. Similarly, in Scotland and Poland, regulatory authorities and have their own responsibilities.

I think the main difference in the protect areas protection measures between Poland and Scotland is the level of public promotion and access provision.

In Scotland we actively advertise our protected areas at whatever level but in Poland this is much more subtle even where public access provision is encouraged.

The trip to Poland was truly fascinating in many respects and one would hope that western influences do not put pressures on the natural heritage we experience in Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Visitor Management in the West Pomaranian region of Poland
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Visitor Management in the West Pomaranian region of Poland

I work as a ranger at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park where my job can be best described as ‘helping visitors enjoy the National Park in a safe and responsible way’. This can be done through sharing of information, education and also enforcement through patrolling. My main patrol area is Loch Lomond so I was very keen to visit similar wetland environments in Poland and see how land managers do things there.

Breeding wader conservation in West Pomerania
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Breeding wader conservation in West Pomerania

Grazing management in Poland currently appears to be wader friendly and it was encouraging to hear that many efforts are being made to make sure grazing is appropriate. At Ujscie Warty, large extents of the park’s floodplain meadows are rented out to local farmers for cattle grazing. Although farmers are keen to get stock out onto the meadows as soon as possible, the park authorities make an attempt to prevent cattle introduction until the second half of June to reduce trampling risk to wader nests but also prevent excessive damage to soft wet ground.

Connecting with nature in West Pomerania
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Connecting with nature in West Pomerania

I was inspired by the focus placed on face to face engagement in Poland to connect people with nature. Given the small size of the teams overseeing the nature areas I felt the decision to concentrate on being out amongst people rather than focusing on producing written communications for press and social media allowed them to build support for nature with the people living next door to it. It highlighted the importance of having local people engaged with nature and supportive of their work which in turn helps with the delivery of conservation.

Differences between the protection, education and public awareness of nature sites in Poland and Scotland.
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Differences between the protection, education and public awareness of nature sites in Poland and Scotland.

a common tactic seemed to be limiting public knowledge of the parks as much as possible, reducing pressure on the environment and disturbance to wildlife as there is just not the staff or infrastructure to support them. Has this resulted in Ujscie Warty National Park having one of the highest densities of birds in Poland? or Dabskie Lake in Szczecin having the highest number of White-tailed Eagles in Europe?
Of course, this is not to say they don’t want visitors, they just can’t currently handle them without the resources. Hopefully in the future perceptions will change and they will be awarded the funding they deserve, and be able show off the wonderful nature and wildlife of Poland in a sustainable way.

Poland – Bird, Mammal & Butterfly List
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Poland – Bird, Mammal & Butterfly List

North-west Poland (West Pomerania) and east Germany 10 – 16 June 2018 Sites Czarnocin Odra Delta Nature Park Dąbskie Lake (nr Szczecin) Woliński National Park Wolin Lower Odra Landscape Park Namyślin (near Kostryń) Nationalpark Unteres Odertal Ujście Warty (Mouth of Warta River) National Park Kaleńsko (tern rafts) Birds Greylag Goose Anser anser Recorded at Odra […]

Poland NET 2018 Film
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Poland NET 2018 Film

A group of 8 people from a mixture of environmental organizations, travelled to Western Pomerania in June, to look at wetland management. We visited several different areas and spoke to various people regarding the management of the environment. We were hosted and shown around the region by Kaz (Dr Kazimerz Rabski), chairman of the Society […]

Wetland and Coastal Management
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Wetland and Coastal Management

A return to traditional farming methods, i.e. extensive grazing and mowing, is being used to restore the previous floristic and ornithological biodiversity of the wet grasslands. To achieve this the Society for the Coast maintain the largest group of Konik horses in Poland, an ancient Polish breed, currently numbering about 230 animals. They also have around 130 Scottish Highland cattle. Between them these hardy animals graze an area of 450 ha. They are left virtually unmanaged and are increasing in numbers.

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