This report can be downloaded as a pdf.
|Fleur Miles-Farrier, RSPB
Coastal and Wetland Management in the Odra Delta and Baltic Coast, Poland 10th-17th June 2019
|By Fleur Miles-Farrier||Erasmus+ project NET5 – Managing our Natural and Cultural Heritage Assets||Host Kazimierz Rabski|
A Brief overview of west pomerania
Population >38 million
120 people per km2
6th most populous EU country
|Left: Poland, Right: West Pomerania. Source Google Maps.|
|I discovered that Poland is beautiful; vast wetlands and landscapes abundant with more birds than you could count whilst walking through clouds of Painted Ladies, traditional scandanavian homes with tended vegetable patches and chicken coupes came as standard, and secret seascapes with golden beaches are yet to be discovered by foreign sunseekers. However, you could not deny that Poland, from no fault of its own, is somewhat stuck in the past.
Polands history has been tumultous; Russia, Prussia, and Austria claiming part ownership during the 18th century, eventually regaining independence in 1918 only to be invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union during the Second World War. Poland had battles over borders with Germany for decades, aptly nicknaming reclaimed West Pomerania ‘New Poland’, the city Szczecin for example ‘moved back’ to poland again after the war. Free elections in 1989 led to the end of the communist rule of Poland, and it has steadily been getting back on its feet ever since.
|It joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) in 1999 and the EU in 2004, and is now the 8th largest economy in the EU, however the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita (country’s gross domestic product ÷ total population) still remains well below the EU average at 15751.23 USD compared to 42514.49 USD and 46747.19 USD for the UK and Germany respectively. However it’s current unemployment rate is doing well, the lowest since 1990 at 5.6%, not much higher than that of the UK and Germany at 3.8% and 3.2% respectively (as of April 2019).
Poland has experienced an increase in tourism in recent years, with 83.8 million foreign visitors in 2017, including 18.3 million tourists and 65.5 million same-day visitors, an increase of 4.1%, 4.4% and 4.0% from 2016 to 2017 respectively. The number of land border crossings from Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Lithuania into Poland saw an 1.6% increase to 107,214 people, and at Schengen border crossing
|points the number of foreigners entering Poland increased by 7.4% to 18,203.
The main bulk of foreigners derive from the Ukraine (56.7%), Belarus (20%), Russia (8.7%), and Great Britain (4.4%). The acculative revenue of tourism earned Poland 14 billion USD in 2017, up from 12 billion the previous year, making it an ever growing valuable asset to the country that could be utilised in funding the management of its nature sites.
In comparison, there were 1.8 million visits to the UK from Poland, but 640,000 of these were lorry drivers heading to or from the UK, and almost half of visitor spend comes from visits to friends or family. Holidaying Polish reportedly visit the UK for its cultural attractions and vibrant city life, generally visiting popular toursist attractions, monuments, museams and music events, and rate the UK lower for its natural beauty – perhaps indicating a general low societal interest in nature and outdoor pursuits.
Where is it?
The Ujscie Warty National Park is located on the north-west border of Poland in the Lubuskie region, where the Warta River meets the Odra River which separates the country from Germany. Its Poland’s youngest national park at 18 years old, established on 1st July 2001, and encompasses 8000 hectares of biodiverse rich land and water – a habitat consisting of vast open meadows, pasture land and reed beds intersected by rivers, a web of ditches, and willow shrubs. It is also a designated Nature 2000 protected area.
What is there?
This land wasn’t always such stringent protection; prior to gaining the highest level of protection when designated a National Park, Usjcie Warty was a Landscape Park, protected under the Ramsar convention. This delayed level of greater protection is surprising given it is one of the most valuable ornithological areas in the country, specifically waterbirds:
- It plays host to up to 280 species, 170 of which are breeding, including 4 grebe species, 8 duck species, 6 rail species, 4-5 species of seagulls and terns, and 6 species of plovers. Others include oystercatcher, graylag goose, gadwall, shelduck, white heron and black-necked grebe.
- Most important wintering area in Poland for whooper swans with up to 3000 individuals, as well as mute swans, rough-legged buzzards, and other ducks and geese.
- 20,000 resident cranes.
- White-tailed Eagles, particularly in winter period.
- 100,000 geese during spring migration, 50,000 over winter.
- Up to 100,000 bean and white-fronted geese in autumn – the bean goose is the most common and its significance is reflected in the use of its image in the park logo.
- European are or endangered birds found include the aquatic warbler, black tern, whiskered tern, corncrake and spotted crake.
Of course, there weren’t only birds, the wetland is abundant with mammalian, reptilian and aquatic life!
- Beavers, otters, ermine (stoat), badger, wild boar and deer.
- Invasive species unfortunately, including American mink, racoon, racoon dog and muskrat.
- 5 frog species, 2 toad species, smooth newt and northern crested newt.
- Grass snake, sand lizard, viviparous lizard and slowworms.
- 35 species of fish; many carp species including bream and white bream, and predatory species including northern pike, European perch, zander, and wels catfish – Poland’s largest fish.
- Also migrating salmon and sea trout heading to the Drawa River water basin to spawn.
There are around 60 plant communities and 500 vascular plant species recorded, and present on the pasture land are meadow foxtail spiked loosestrife, and marsh-marigold. Rare and endangered species can also be found here, such as the wild pea, fen ragwort, and small flowered bittercress.
The park area used to be covered in forests of willow, elms, ash and alder before deforestation in the 18th century to create settlements, meadows and pasture land, introducing cattle and horses to graze the land, artificially creating the bird haven it is today. Today, although some trees remain, the park largely consists of areas of rushes with dominating reed canarygrass, mannagrass, slender tufted-sedge and great yellow cress. The Park can quickly become overgrown, making it less suitable for nesting birds, so pastureland is rented out to local farmers who graze their cattle for a few weeks of the year outside of breeding season.
How is it managed?
We discovered very early on that Poland has a very complicated system when it comes to its protection and designation system of nature site – National parks, Landscape parks, Nature Parks (and the list goes on!) all with differing governing bodies and levels of protection.
Nature parks, of which there are 23 covering 3,167,48km2 in Poland, are managed by directors of the government administration – equivalent of our Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
|Above: Front cover of the park’s information leaflet available in the NP’s HQ/education center.
The NP’s are considered very low priority and receive very low funding for infrastructure and staff. At the time of the visit, Ujscie Warty was very understaffed, 23 staff in total but with some sick or on leave, just two rangers covering the area, overloaded with duties of monitoring the park for prohibited activities (almost impossible with such a large area to be inconspicuous), engaging with local landowners, and invasive species control. However, one difference noticed was that one of the rangers did have legal powers to enforce fines onto those found to be breaching rules if seen necessary. They were clear that this option wasn’t their objective and they’d rather focus on more important issues, however they seemed confident in having this power behind them, and acts as a useful deterrent, particularly for repeat offenders.
NP’s do have a higher level of protection compared to others, so here only the park staff and police are permitted to use boats on the rivers, and fishing is only allowed during certain seasons but with a permit. However, the park is accessible to the public by foot and car, with 60km of roads and 20km of ‘Polish Tourism and Sightseeing Society’ accredited marked walking trails with viewing towers and platforms Volunteers.
Situated here was also the NP’s HQ and educational center, which consisted of mainly offices, a small conference room where we received a couple of informative presentations, and some leaflet stands –
|Above: Map of the park’s inside the information leaflet.
a reasonable set up as a base and center for school visits and study tours, but not to support day visitors or tourists.
A reoccurring theme through all parks we visited was that none were particularly well advertised, an apparent deliberate attempt to limit attracting too many people. This was largely as the park lacks the infrastructure to support visitors, and to mitigate habitat damage and disturbance of birds. However, there was talk of upcoming plans to build the largest visitor center in Poland here, the funding source for this was unclear but it could be a promising way of providing the income for the Park it so desperately needs
What was very surprising, especially given the issue of a small work force, is that the park doesn’t take on volunteers or run a volunteer program of any kind. Apparently, this is because volunteers would have to pay for their own liability insurance. Obviously, this is another repercussion of underfunding from the government, but it also acts as a further disincentive for people who already have low interest in conservation and/or limited disposable income.
As seen in the RSPB, volunteers are one of their most valuable commodities, and the team at Ujscie Warty NP could really see itself flourish with the help of volunteers – halving workloads, assisting with habitat management, monitoring the park, and even visitor engagement. However, interest in this type of unpaid work is not popular in Poland, so finding local volunteers is probably easier said than done.
Bórbagno Mialka Nature Reserve was our first stop with our fantastic guides for 3 days from the Zespól Parków Krajobrazowych (Landscape Parks Team (LPT)), Karolina and Igor – appointed Senior Specialist for Nature conservation and international cooperation, and Chief specialist for Nature conservation, education, tourism and recreation, respectively at the LPT. The LPT are funded through the local authority (council), not the government like the NP’s, so again, budget is very small and there are staff shortages
This reserve was established in 1981 and only covers an area of 34 hectares, but apparently it is a very important wetland in Poland given there are few water habitats like it. Its rich peat bog formed from sphagnum mosses and ferns is of course a valuable carbon sink, but also provides the perfect conditions for beech trees to grow, attracting a large resident crane population as well as those migrating from Scandinavia to Iberia.
Beavers are also very prominent here, as seen in the photo to the right, where one had felled a tree which also happened be supporting a cranes nest, evident by the chicks remains alongside it. Nationwide, beaver numbers are now considered to be too big and are causing issues, mainly to human way of life, such as felling trees on to powerline or creating obstructions. However, there no plans to reduce numbers.
The promotion of this reserve was very much like that of Ujscie Warty NP, there is no advertisement for the park directed at tourists or locals – yet. LPT also want the infrastructure implemented to support tourists, designating areas for them to limit disturbance to wildlife or cause damage to the environment. Currently there are basic signs – name of the reserve (see left) and a board detailing code of conduct on the reserve, but written in Polish.
The area felt unvisited but littering seemed a big problem, much more than in RSPB reserves, as it was obvious in every park we went to, even those with waste disposal facilities in place. I feel this further reflects the current societal view of conservation and habitat protection, which will take time to change. This reserve was off the main road with no signing to its location. For the time being, it seems a primary method of protecting the habitat seems to be stopping people from knowing it’s there in the first place.
What is a landscape park?
A Landscape park is a different designation from a national park and nature reserve, they are protected places of agricultural and economic value – 124 of these are established in Poland, 4 of which we visited on the trip. Although the parks were established in the 80’s and 90’s, their administration was not allocated until 2012! So we had the opportunity to see what the LPT had already achieved in only 7 years.
Inski Landscape Park
Inski used to be a very popular tourist town, now it’s mainly known for the Inski film festival, like the Cannes film festival, which brings actors, actresses and fans from around Poland, Europe and the world. Due to its fallen popularity, the LPT are working with the local community to improve the town in order to benefit themselves and to reignite tourism in the region.
The LPT organised various community meetings and debates to ask them what they would like to develop the area, and one of their suggestions was a viewing tower over their grand Insko lake district – boasting 600ha in size with a 30km shoreline (see right). Through funding from 32 partners in Europe, the tower was built, including an elevator and information boards about the town. The conditions of having this tower built were that the community had to prove they would care for it and keep it in good condition, as well as not permitted to make money from it within the first 5 years of its completion.
The lake itself is rich with life, abundant with ducks and other water birds, fish and is famous for the European crayfish,– symbolising the cleanliness of the water, as seen proudly shown off by the figurine in the above left photo. For this reason, some activities are prohibited on the lake, such as motorised boats and jet skis. However, given the size of the lake and lack of staff, its almost impossible to police and the LPT staff don’t have legal powers to enforce penalties.
Additional infrastructure around the lake included a very popular boardwalk in the summer heat, even businesses running electric powered boat trips from it, as well as some very impressive interactive educational indormation boards and shelters, from which I think the RSPB could take inspiration from!
Although it is all quite new, the community is obviously very proud of their town and everything was in perfect condition, and very little litter!
That’s right – there is a Ujscie Warty Landscape park as well as a Ujscie Warty National Park! The difference? This is just another part of the Ujscie Warty (Warta River Mouth) area, but designated as a Landscape park. Its used to be sand mine/quarry, that flooded and has attracted an impressive number of birds, many of which are breeding, so its actually a manmade habitat.
Three years ago, after much persuasion and convinsing of the reluctant town mayor, he eventually secured some funding from the local authority, the LPT were able to buy and construct artificial islands to encourage nesting, and it has been very successful. They are now home to 200 pairs of black tern, and 70 pairs of common tern – a result the mayor is apparently very proud of, a complete change of attitide!
However, despite the success, there is no hiding that this is a very artificial form of conservation, mostly taking advantage of a convenient situation, and shouldn’t be deliberately emulated.
There was some infrastructure to support visitors here – an information board, a picnic bench, and a giant wooden spider-shaped amphitheatre designed as a teaching platform for school groups. There are waste disposal bins but again, litter was distributed around. There were signs warning not to disturb the nesting birds- the first of the kind I had seen in Poland. This park is managed by the local council…seems like things are done better when not left in the hand of the government.
More funding is needed – Isn’t it always!
The government here is described as always ‘pushing issues under the carpet’ and therefore obtaining funding is very difficult. As a result, education or visitors centres can’t be built and no education materials, maps or other resources are availble except online. However, a scheme whereby the LPT distibuted maps of a different park every week via the local newspaper was very popular and people became engaged with the promotion.
Furthermore, the LPT still isnt in a position to afford a public relations officer, so public engagement and education events are very rare even though they’d love to do it, but visitors can contact rangers directly for tours of the park.
As mentioned previously, rangers don’t have legal powers to penalize people and there is a potential danger when approaching groups alone, so there is an agreement with local police officers to attend if there is aggressive behavior to rangers, but not because of the prohibited acts themselves.
“Poland’s Scottish Heather”
Igor and Karolina were very excited to show us their heather moorland, referring it to as ‘Scottish Poland’.
The similarities were obvious, but this moorland was situated on sand dunes, dotted with small oak, beech and alder trees.
They are in the process of finding the best management strategy – local authority had previously hired the cheapest forestry contractors available, who left the felled trees on the land, which re-seeded and grew back. There are now plans to burn the moorland to help manage the heather, but there are explosive devices in the sand left over from the second world war that need to be found and removed before it can take place, which will take time and money.
There was also some nice additional basic infrastructure in place to support visitors, like that used in Ujscie Warty Landscape park (see right).
As seen in the photos to the left, despite the parks distance from busy civilization, it has experienced a lot of senseless vandalism to its signs, and again, a lot of littering. These are only a couple of years old and although not expensive to replace, they will take time to replace, time overstretched staff don’t have. It was very disheartening for them. This localized rubbish will be collected weekly via the council disposal services.
This is a newly built fort in the Park, recreating the Polish defenses in the spot where Poland won their first battle against Germany a few hundred years ago – for which they were very proud! The weekend after we left Poland there was a community event planned to celebrate its anniversary, including a reenactment of the battle. It was expected to be very busy. It’s a good example of what landscape parks are for, it may not be nature conservation but it’s great for benefiting and the local community and bringing people together.
Moryn – “Geo Park”
A great surprise when walking along a lakeside in town of Moryn in Cedynski Park were a series of life sized Paleolithic statues!
They represent the extinct species whose fossilised remains have been found in the local area, including the Odra river, and elsewhere in Poland and neighbouring countries. Each one came with its own information board written in Polish and German – directed towards the most frequent visitors.
The figures are EU funded and have been in situ for a few years as an educational tool. There were of high quality and was very impressed they were still in such good condition! There were small signs stating not to sit on the statues (but noting protecting them), and also signs saying CCTV was in operation – I couldn’t see any evidence of this but must act a good deterrant!
Background and history
The Odra Delta Nature Park is the proud creation of our host Kazimierz Rabski, the project director of the Society for The Coast, one of the partner organiations that owns and manages the park.
The area was bought in 1996 but established as a nature park in 2005 and covers 4000ha. It includes a mixture of coastal habitats including wetlands, coastal meadows, forests, and lagoon waters (see right photo). The different areas are managed by different relavent partners; 786ha coastal wetlands and meadows by Society for The Coast, 419ha of pine forest by National Forestry, 2,673 lagoon waters by the Maritime Office, and 118ha is private land, roads and channels. Kazimierz was able to obtain funding to purchase the 786ha area through the National Ecological Network (EECONET) Action Fund and support from The Coastal Union (EUCC).
This park was established because the land was abandoned by farmers after the state farming system collapsed in 1989. Without cattle to graze the land, the meadows quickly became overgrown, making it unfavourable habitat for nesting birds. This was great concern for Birdlife given it is a unique habitat and an important ornithological area consisting of two Natura 2000 sites.
Aims and management objectives
The long-term management strategy for this park is simple but covers all important factors that entail effective conservation.
- Actively remanaging wetlands and coastal meadows through the implementation of Scottish Highland Cows and traditional Polish Konik horses to graze the land, as mowing the land wasn’t effective enough alone to lower the ground for birds. The Koniks are closely related to the tarpan horse which would’ve originally been found there.
- Manage the water levels on the land by re-establishing channel systems and dikes.
- Nature education to children has been ongoing since 1996. The ‘WE Young People See Nature project” has been running for 13 years and involves student exchanges where 10 young people (aged 15-17) from the Netherlands come to Poland to meet 10 Polish pupils, and vice versa.
The aim is for young people to use photography to ‘see’ nature in a different way, so they take photos when they’re exploring different parks and present their favourites to eachother and the end of the day. It’s also an opportunity for young people from countries who are often prejudiced against eachother, to learn about cultures, european cooperation, and conservations projects. It proves to be more engaging and successful than classroom teaching!
- Establishing eco-tourism, sustainable recreational activities and education by creating the infrastructure to support it – working with local stakeholders and investors to set up hospitality businesses, campsites, horse riding tours etc.
- Herd management- initially, a small number of cows and horses were sourced from Netherlands, but as they are left as natural herds, their popluations have boomed to 200 and 190 respectively. That equates to a density 1 animal per ha for wet and semi-wet meadows, when the ideal is 0.5-0.7 per ha. As a result, Kazimierz has had the struggle of relocating animals – it is illegal to cull them and not a desireable option anyway. There are few natural predators, although incidents of deaths of calves by wolves has been observed. By the end of summer 2019, he hopes to reduce the herd of horses to 150, and by the end of the year aims to have 70 horses and 100 cows. Following this, the plan is to sell small numbers of 10 individuals or so every year.
Additionally, monitoring the health of the cattle is very costly, taking into consideration the expenditure of a vet to carry out blood tests and ear-tag each individual. They initially had much difficulty herding the cattle and resulted in purchasing a corral (see right) which makes the process much less stressful for the cows, but cost 30,000 euros alone.
- Beavers – Due to increasingly frequent mild winters and lack of predators, less of the beaver population locally and nationwide is killed off over this period, meaning the population is getting too big – an estimated 100,000 in Poland. In this park, this results in trees being taken down that could be used for nesting birds as well as shading for cattle, and they also play a part in the land being too waterlogged. Beavers a partially protected meaning their numbers can be controlled but aren’h hunted for food. A Polish minister is famous for stating ‘Beavers’ tails make a good aphrodisiac’ as an attempt to encourage people to hunt them – obviously irresponsible as such myths and unregulated hunting often leads to the endangerment of species.
- Species monitoring – Although the bird species present in the park have been identified, there has been no official monitoring of any birds, mammals or invertebrates. This is amazing since the sheer quantity of activity we witnessed ourselves on our visit. There are a few reasons for this – as mentioned before, there is generally little interest in nature and conservation among society in Poland, and there is no local accommodation or funding to support volunteers or students interested in conducting research. This is something that may become more possible if tourism develops.
- Cooperation and communication – 6 years ago, without consulting Society for The Coast or other partners of the Odra Delta Park, the authorities decided to improve the structure of dikes around the region, however they used sand – an unsuitable material given its instability. 2 years on, the president decided to put cycling trails on top, with no successive maintenance, and there were fences that blocked off wildlife corridors, especially for deer and wild boar. As a result, the paths and dikes deteriorated. Local authority accused Odra Park representatives of over domesticating their cattle, causing visitors to stop to take photos, causing the damage. They were even taken to court and ordered to pay a small fine of 300 zlotys (£63), which they paid to keep the peace. The future plan is for Odra Park to raise the fences to allow the movement of wildlife but keep the cattle in.
Outdoor Access code?
There were almost no signs at all in the park stating what activities are or are not allowed, not even ‘No Littering’ signs, or notices to stay on the path or not to approach cattle– except for one warning to keep 25m from the horses and another which shows that the horses can damage cars, by standing on them… Kazimierz was very dismissive of putting up boards with lots of rules, they want people to enjoy the nature and not feel policed – they trust people to use their common sense. This seems to be a common way of thinking in Poland.
The partners of the Odra Delta Nature Park communicate via a forum as well as meeting monthly to discuss ideas and produce propoganda for the park – such as purchasing a boat to conduct tours.
There is debate between partners as whether to apply to designate the park a Landscape Park, as this would make it an easier process to receive funding, run projects, advertise and promote the park, and network with other partners and organisations. They could even apply to be a National Park as its over 1000 ha, however it would be owned and run by the state, which has been showm to be undesireable.
Wolinski National Park was established in 1960, covers 4691ha and mainly consists of moraine habitat – material deposited by glacial action. Its consists of four microregions; the predominant geomorphilogical feature is the Wolin Mountain Range, stretching from Szczecin Bay, through Miedzyzdroje to Swietoujscie. The mountains are cut with several land depression, some filled with lake water. Another important formation is the Przytorska Sand Barrier – sand dunes now covered with coastline Pine forest. However, the most notable feature of the landscape are the lakes
Visit to Muzeum Przyrodnicze – Wolinskiego Parku Narodowego
We were lucky enough to be given a presentation by the Director of Wolinkski NP at their headquarters, which was also a Museum educational centre. It was an impressive relatively modern building, with auditoriums to hold conferences and seminars, and exhibition rooms to exhibit artists’ photos and artwork. The Museum itself was a large collection of taxidermy which was interesting, but lacked any further information other than species name. It seemed to be one of few such centres in Poland and is considered very important aspect of the park. The education they provide is aimed at primary and seconday school children as they believe its easier to educate than to change the bad habits of adults, and children can usually influnce adults.
They deploy education group to schools, hold events such as family picnics. During summer, once a week they set up a marquee on the beach and engage with the public, handing out leaflets and putting on kids activities. It’s the only park we visited that seemed to at least have the funding to fully pursue public engagement work.
Management of Wolinski Park
All National Parks function based on the ‘Nature Protection Law’ established by the president of Poland, and the the most important tool is the management plan, known as the ‘Protection Plan’ – 20 year-long projections set out by the prime minister. However, only 30% of funding actually comes from the PM, the rest must be sought from donations and other methods. This park employs over 57 staff members, but approx 7 are on annual/maternity leave, or are ill, meaning greater workloads for others. There is a desire to employ more staff but again, funding issues.
People are considered the biggest threat, with 1.5 million visitors a year, 80% of which between June-August alone. They cause particular damage to the sand dunes through prohibited acts of trampling, riding quads and driving dune buggies. As a deterrant, a boardwalk and fences have been installed to guide tourists away, which has been very successful.
Other prohibited activities which are difficult to police are jet skiing, power boating, bonfires, and allowing dogs on restricted areas. However, rangers do have the power to give penalties as all restictions and prohibited acts on reserves and National Parks are written in the ‘Nature Protection Law’. 1st strike means you have to attend a lecture, strike two results in a fine. Failure to pay the fine and you will be taken to court
The effort to manage visitors and educate people by Wolinski NP was much more obvious than at the other parks, likely a result of being in a tourist town with much greater immediate pressures that can’t be ignored, as well as probably a higher level of funding.
Poland was much more beautiful and abundant with wildlife than I ever imagined, but it doesn’t seem to be a result of a deliberate nationwide effort to conserve, but a result of less people disturbing the natural environment.
The biggest issues for the varying different parks we visited seemed to all derive from the lack of interest and passion from society for protecting nature, and is on the bottom of the list of priorities for their government. This all then trickles down to issues resulting from not being allocated enough funding from governmental budgets, and that effects everything from not being able to employ enough staff to cover all departments needed, not being able to build the necessary infrastructure for visitor or education purposes, or conducting scientifically sound monitoring of habitats and species.
As a result, 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.
In a perfect world, I’m sure many RSPB folk would love to cut off access to reserves from the public; allowing habitats to remain untouched and regenerate, and animals left undisturbed to breed and live in peace – whole ecosystems without humans. However, I feel for people to care about something, they need to know about it and experience it, and that’s where education and public awareness comes in, a vital tool that the budgets of organizations in Poland often can’t stretch to.
Maybe for Scotland, more restricted access at certain times or areas is a solution, or even limiting the number of visitors entering reserves if possible. For Poland, they’re still experiencing the excitement of post-communist modern living, and maybe in a few years that will wear off and attention will focus to environmental matters, just as it did for us after the war, I just hope it won’t be too late.