GB No. 2(13)/94
The "Man and the Environment" scientific committee at the Presidium of the Polish Academy of Sciences organized a scientific conference "Vistula management problems" which took place on December 8, 1993. Seven papers and a discussion proved that the fate of Vistula is still not clear. Representatives of Hydroproject and the Ministry of Environmental Protection tried to push their concept of management of the lower Vistula and the initiation of the East-West waterway. Their statements were nicely packaged with concern about the environment and sustainable development. They met with a decisive opposition from antagonists of those investments who also care about nature. As usual at such conferences, tragical performances were not deficient (e.g. the representative of the Ministry of Transport).
I do not want to recapitulate the conference, but I had the impression that there was no special divergence of opinions regarding the necessity of finishing water investments on the upper Vistula. Everyone agreed that taking them on was a mistake because they did not fulfill the intended goals, defined allowing for expansion with "industrial" fancy. It was a common conviction that national parks and landscape parks should be created on the middle Vistula. Technocrats say it should be done, and naturalists say it must be done -- and done immediately. Negotiations, difficult in this matter, will deal with the location of stabilizing installations which might be a threat for a bird sanctuary. The extent of planned parks is still a matter of argument. A key problem is the section between Warsaw and Płock.
In terms of lower Vistula management, however, there was a great divergence of opinions. It is difficult to find any line which divides the views presented. Advocates of building cascades and storage reservoirs hid under the cover of uncertainty and openness for discussion. It came so easy to them because they had no idea how to get financial aid and how to solve the problem of water pollution of the Vistula. Nevertheless it may be accepted that a project to build cascades on the Vistula will be considered and studied.
In my opinion environmental organizations operating in this area should assume a more active position in controlling the actions of the administration (e.g. management plans) and in insisting on the creation of protected lands along the river. The Bydgoszcz voivodeship recently created a complex of landscape parks situated on the riverside, and I think it should find its reflection on the Toruń side.
Suprisingly alive is the concept of initiating the East-West waterway. And although none of the advocates of this investment could say what will be conveyed in this way and who will benefit economically, plans proceed -- and as I know, they take impetus. Everything takes place in the privacy of officerooms. Especially effective at secrecy is the Warsaw voivode. He does not want to talk with the Mazowiecki Ecological Club and the all-Poland Bird Protection Society at all.
It was precisely the Bird Protection Society which presented the interests of the environmentalists during the conference -- and did it well. They were great !!!
We should also be grateful to the Polish Academy of Sciences for undertaking the conference organization. It was maybe the first meeting devoted to such important matters where everybody could openly discuss the queen of Polish rivers.
In closing, I would like to suggest opening in Green Brigades "a window" devoted to the Vistula. It would enable an exchange of information among environmental groups working on these issues.
Polish Ecological Club
ZB 1(55) p 8