Articles

The major problem is the drying and the subsequent degradation of soils in the areas where the Project is implemented (the Nothern Polder)
 

The immediate cause of this is inappropriate hydrology causing processes typical for arid zones. Remineralisation, rot, disappearance of the water retention properties, rapid flow of seasonal surface water (rain), fast rate of shrub succession... All of this was due to earlier draining of the land and resulted in significant depletion of biodiversity and the withdrawal of species from the place that should be / could be one of the most valuable in the country and in Europe. Primarily because of the avifauna.

 

Changes in the hydrology of the valley of the Warta River mouth have been caused by human activities in the last three centuries. These changes meant a dramatic decrease in water supply conditions in wetland ecosystems, which in this region were created and sustained as a result of groundwater flooding, or as a result of the annual, spring flooding of the Oder and Warta rivers. This led to the arrest of peat-forming processes and degradation of associated ecosystems. In the last two decades this phenomenon coincided with the disappearance of valuable natural areas shaped by traditional extensive agriculture - the withdrawal of local farmers from the use of difficult and inefficient marshy meadows (grassland).
 

As a result, there has been a sustained decrease in the number of rare and endangered bird species breeding  on ?? the Northern Polder, including complete withdrawal of some breeding species (such as harriers, meadow ducks, waders). The main reason for this are specific hydrological conditions that contribute to further deterioration of habitat conditions. Therefore measures taken between 2004 and 2008 to reduce the rate of plant succession and bird habitat degradation were not successful in increasing the number of breeding avifauna associated with these wetlands.
 

There was then no action aimed at halting the adverse water processes  in the soil - generally too rapid draining of water from the polder causing peat rot, mineralization of sedimentary soil, loss of retention properties, increasing the rate of succession of shrubs and trees. Under these conditions, especially waders, which are one of the priorities of the project, are unable to feed or breed (the dried land facilitates penetration of terrestrial predators, and shrubs provide shelter and observation points for the winged predators). It became necessary to link the tasks of active conservation (performed by grazing and mowing) with comprehensive management of the polder waters aimed at increasing the level of groundwater and hollows, which in turn will provide convenient and stable conditions for wetlands avifauna and reverse the process of loss of biodiversity.
 

The technical condition of ditches in all the precincts is very bad. All watercourses are heavily overgrown and silted to such an extent that their depth is virtually zero. During the field tests, not a single drainage ditch could be inventoried which would be technically efficient. The remnants of the formerly very dense drainage network in its current state only accelerate and enhance the desiccation process. At present it is not possible to use the existing drainage network to adjust the air-water relations in the soil profile in the polder. It is technically impossible to raise and maintain an adequate level of water in the soil or on its surface (generally, to conduct water management). However, only such action could stop the progressive degradation of the land, including the loss of its wildlife value.
 

Measures to protect birds and their habitats in the Norther Polder are not possible without renovation of the drainage network – such renovation will be key to the ability to manage water and continue to ensure adequate soil-water relations. Therefore, the project essentially focuses on the partial reconstruction of previously existing drainage network with the intention to use it for damming the water level and for managing water according to the phenological period and the zone of soil wetness.
 

There are  at least 55 species of birds at varying degrees of risk in the Norther Polde. Analysis of the inventory and monitoring reports showed low abundance and instability of populations of particular species (lack of continuity of broods), which reflect the unstable habitat conditions.
 

The specific risks associated with the project is low level of social awareness (the result of a lack of knowledge and promotion) of the significance of meadow-marsh. This aspect is particularly problematic among farmers and local governments, and the youngest generation. In the context of this problem the lack of direct, good and practical information about the meadow and wetland habitats is particularly acute. There is a common lack of knowledge of the possibility of effective management in the areas of wet meadows. There is also a lack of promotion of model solution that promote the harmonious joining of nature and active agriculture (in terms of potential benefits), based on the principles of sustainable development. All these problems are further exacerbated by the black PR that surrounds nature conservation in general. Consequently, we are dealing not only with a low awareness, but also often with open hostility or enmity. The most important thing here is to provide awareness of the importance of wetlands for agriculture - including their potential economic value for farmers. Meanwhile, in the whole of the country, there is visible lack of cooperation in this field, and thus there is no exchange of experiences and no joint integrated actions. Adequate promotion and dissemination of knowledge (including indication of model solutions) are prerequisites for the sustainability of this project and others like it. Positive attitude and support of local governments and farmers, and the knowledge acquired by young people will ensure that further projects will be possible which are founded on the principles of sustainable development. In particular, projects of  active conservation of natural meadows and marshes in the agricultural landscape and conservation of related species of birds and biodiversity in general. We believe that the project activities which have been planned in the field of social communication will provide effective support to promote the idea of ??conservation and biodiversity ??- in relation to wetlands in particular.