By John Gibson, Scottish Natural Heritage
This report is available to download as a pdf.
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.
Our guide Lucija Gartner manages a farm with her family and balances traditional farming with some diversification techniques. They have converted one of their old farm buildings into tourist accommodation and offer guided tours and cheesemaking workshops for visiting tourists. The cheesemaking workshop was one of the highlights
Faced with a crowded national park and local communities and crafts struggling to survive from traditional activities, their strategy is to encourage and promote tourism as a way to help the communities thrive. Educating the local communities (from school children to farmers) is key to the success of the programme. Tourism is seen as the generator of sustainable change. It was interesting to hear that their Slovenia Green Platinum Scheme was inspired by the Green Tourism Scheme in Scotland. The Triglav National Park and more particularly Bohinj have now taken it a step further by creating a Triglav Quality Mark and a specific Bohinj brand .
The Wildflower Festival provided a way to encourage locals to keep the meadows uncut for longer periods of time, reduce pressures on the local communities by offering a tourism package that moves away from ‘lake, sun, beer’ model, outside of the peak season. It futher, spotlighted the cultural/social dimensions of nature, which is something I’ve been wanting to build more experience in as it is an important aspect of my current role, helping to develop an ecosystem health approach to protected area monitoring, which involves incorporating society and people into measuring the health of a given ecosystem.
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 […]
A group report covering a range of perspectives and topics from the NET Latvia course 2019. Although a trip focused on understanding the management of nature conservation in Latvia our hosts made sure we received a healthy dose of cultural history to compliment and broaden our understanding of Latvia and its people.
From the wetlands of Kemeri National Park through to the wooded sand stone valley of Gauja National Park the visiting tourist cannot fail to be impressed by the abundance of information signs, play areas, picnic spots, fire pits, boarded walks and walking trails which manage to make you feel welcome without compromising on the natural beauty of the landscape. I think all in the group would agree that we were excited about the accessibility of Latvia to a tourist with return trips already being mapped out. Nothing demonstrates this tourism infrastructure more than the Latvian Nature app, freely available and translated into English it enables you to maximise your visit to Latvia from the comfort of your pocket.
An account of the history and restoration works undertaken of one of Latvia’s major peat bogs – and the restoration of an adjoining river and associate flood plains.
In terms of organisational structure there are strong similarities to Scotland. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) develops policy. The State Forest Service sits within the MOA and enforces legislation across the industry whilst providing support and issuing licences/permits for all forests regardless of ownership. Finally, the Latvia State Forests Joint Stock Company operates as a commercial entity and manages all state owned forests. However as Normunds went into more detail and as we visited more forests throughout the week it became clear that organisational structure was where any similarities to forestry in Scotland ended. In terms of forest cover, ownership and management Scotland and Latvia could hardly be more different. It was fascinating to spend time in a country with such a different approach, where forestry seems to be winning out over intensive tree farming. Since being back at work I’ve been looking at my sites differently, wondering how much of what I saw could work here and daydreaming of Wolf , Moose, Lynx and Bear…. Paldies Latvia!