GB No. 4(15)/94
The Fund of Environmental and Resource Economists was established as an initiative of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE) - Polish Division (based in Cracow). The main activities of the Fund are editing/publishing and cooperation with scientists from other centres. A good example of the Fund's editing and publishing activity is the journal called Economics and Environment published by the Fund. The first edition appeared in June, 1992. It was presented to the public during the Third Conference of EAERE. Editing and publishing activities are an important part of the environmental and economic education of society.
The main stress is put on preparing and presenting reliable information to the people responsible for the Polish economy and its development. The information also concerns technological achievements. One of the aims of the Fund is to present to readers in other countries the achievements of Polish scientists in the field of economic problems of environmental and natural resources protection. A good example of this is the special English edition of the above-mentioned journal Economics and Environment. This special edition was prepared for the Fourth Conference of EAERE, which took place in Fontainebleau, in France, on June 30 - July 3, 1993. It was an international conference attended by scientists from Europe, the United States, Australia, and Japan. All the participants were presented with this special edition of the journal.
Other editions of the journal are published in the Polish language. Each of them includes a short summary in English. If you are interested in getting our journals regularly, please write to us at the following address.
The Fund of Environmental and Resource Economists
(Fundacja Ekonomistów ¦rodowiska i Zasobów Naturalnych
ul. Krakowska 9
tel. 23214 w. 133; 127
The Great Mazurian Lakes Foundation (GMLF) was established in May, 1991, by several municipalities of the GML Region, the Suwałki and Olsztyn Voivods and a number of private individuals.
The GMLFs statutory bodies are:
(i) The Supervisory Council. The Council Members include representatives of the local governments of the GML Region (four), the Suwałki and Olsztyn Voivods (two), the Ministry of Environmental Protection (one) and the National Environmental Protection Fund (one). The Council also includes representatives of the European Union and the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), as non-voting members.
(ii) The Executive Board, headed by the Chairman of the GMLF.
The GMLF is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. Its income is generated through commercial activities, mostly in environmental protection, as well as through subsidies, grants and donations from domestic and foreign donors. All net profits made on commercial activities are used to support the GMLFs charter activities. The GMLF currently employs 10 persons on a permanent, full-time basis, and 5 persons on a short-term or part-time basis. The notion of membership in the case of the GMLF is informally used with regard to 18 municipalities (gminas) of the Great Mazurian Lakes Region, which have contributed financially to the establishment of the Foundation and/or declared the will to cooperate with it.
The main goals of the GMLF are:
The key achievements of the GMLF are:
In order to secure maximum efficiency of environmental activities, the Masterplan for the Great Mazurian Lakes Region was elaborated under the EC PHARE Programme. The Masterplan, based on a thorough analysis of the present situation, is a 10-year strategic plan for the environmental sector of the GML Region. Its implementation is coordinated and supervised by the Great Mazurian Lakes Foundation.
Considerable funds have been secured for the development and implementation of a Regional Geographical Information System (GIS). The system will be an important management and planning tool. Designing of the system has already begun.
The GMLF is involved in all important wastewater management design and construction projects in the Region. The most important was the securing of domestic and foreign funds as well as formulation, coordination, and supervision of a number of design, supply and construction projects which will permit the Giżycko Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant to be completed in 1994. In a similar way, the GMLF has helped in the designing and construction of municipal wastewater treatment plants in Ryn and Mrągowo which will be completed in 1994/95. The GMLF has supplied parts of equipment for the Pisz and Biała Piska treatment plants. A number of design projects for the remaining towns of the Region (Orzysz, Ruciane-Nida, Mikołajki, Piecki, Miłki) have been launched and most have been completed. Recently the GMLF has taken over the supervision of construction of wastewater treatment plants in Orzysz and Miłki. Procurement of mobile sludge dewatering equipment which will serve a number of wastewater treatment plants is under way. Many of these projects are funded by the PHARE Programme and the US EPA. The GMLF provides local authorities with day-to-day assistance of qualified staff, which directly manages most of the projects.
Solid Waste Management
The GMLF elaborated a "Campsites Upgrading Program", comprising an inventory of legal and illegal campsites in the GML Region, an assessment of their infrastructural needs, and an action plan for establishing a solid waste disposal system.
Since the spring of 1993, the GMLF has been implementing the program by organizing solid waste disposal from over 40 seasonal facilities. Since June, 1994, the GMLF has served almost 100 campsites and holiday centers in the GML Region. The GMLF's solid waste disposal system covers mostly rural areas of the Region, which had previously lacked any services of this kind.
Since the beginning of 1994, the GMLF has been particularly active in the field of environmental education which has become an important element of its day-to-day activities. The main achievements of the GMLF in this field are: elaboration of an educational program for schools, covering basic issues of water protection, organizing a training course for volunteer nature guards (rangers), and publishing a comprehensive guide on the GML Region's natural and cultural assets.
A long-term action plan and a number of educational projects have been prepared. The Foundation has established close cooperation with the newly created environmental education centers in Suwałki and Olsztyn, as well as with the schools and kindergartens of the GML Region.
The Foundation has recently established an environmental library, serving schools and private individuals and co-operating with public libraries in the GML Region.
An environmental education and training center is now being established. Its first activity is the organization of a series of training courses and seminars on environmental protection and management for local government staff. The training activities were launched in mid-September, 1994. A specialistic training course for wastewater treatment operators is also in preparation.
The Foundation cooperates with Gazeta Giżycka (The Giżycko Gazette) in editing an environmental section of the newspaper.
Since the beginning of 1994 the GMLF has organized and secured the financing of a number of local and regional level competitions aimed at increasing environmental awareness of children and young people. A more technical cooperation program with the newly founded Environmental Engineering Technical School in Giżycko is in preparation. In April, 1994, the Foundation contributed to the organization and financing of the largest Earth Day celebration ever held in Giżycko. Recently (September, 1994,) the GMLF was one of the leading organizers of the Clean up the World action in the GML Region.
Great Mazurian Lakes Foundation
ul. Moniuszki 22
tel. 5590, fax 5591
The Association of Science and Technology Teachers (SNPPiT) was established in 1990 and officially registered in 1991. It is a forum for open discussion among teachers for exchanging experiences with an aim to improving science and technology education in Poland.
FORMS OF ACTIVITY
First General Conference of Teachers on "How to teach about the protection of the environment?" was held in Cracow in September, 1991;
Second General Conference of Teachers on "Education/Environmental Protection/Industry" was held in Bydgoszcz in September, 1992;
Third General Conference of Teachers on "Microcomputers in Teaching Science and Technology" was held in Zielona Góra in September, 1993;
Fourth General Conference of Teachers on "Light in Teaching Science and
Technology" was held at the Pedagogical University (WSP) in Częstochowa September
SCHOOL TO SCHOOL - international project on environmental problems;
TCHERNOBYL - UNESCO project on the influence of development on environment;
SATIS and its European extension SCIENCE ACROSS EUROPE.
For further information, contact Alicja Wojtyna-Jodko, President of SNPPiT, at the following address:
Stowarzyszenie Nauczycieli Przedmiotów
Przyrodniczych i Technicznych
Skrytka pocztowa 93
85-797 Bydgoszcz 32
fax/tel.: 48/52/43 07 51
Poland has some of the most significant wetlands and wet meadows in Europe. Two percent of the country is covered by water and 5% by peatbogs. As a consequence, Poland is one of the richest countries on the continent for birds, and 126 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) have been identified. Most of these IBAs are wetlands or include some wetland habitat.
Polish wetlands are important for three globally threatened bird species. They are of great significance for the aquatic warbler -- there are around 5000 pairs in Poland, which is about 1/3 of the total world population. Also, approximately 7000 pairs of corncrake occur, and 180-240 pairs of white-tailed eagle.
Poland is the most important country in central and western Europe for breeding white stork (more than 30,000 pairs). Poland also has major populations of little bittern, bittern, garganey, crane, spotted crake, black-tailed godwit, great snipe, black tern, and many more. Many birds use the wetlands of Poland during migrations, and sites on the Baltic Coast are host to thousands of grebes, diving ducks, and geese in the winter.
These impressive bird populations exist partly because of the traditional small-scale farming that is still common in much of Poland. But things are changing. Significant changes in land use are expected in the next decade, and this may have a serious effect on wildlife.
In the past 40 years, drainage and other alterations have affected about 7.3 million hectares of wetland in Poland. Major drainage projects have included 140,000 hectares in the Bay of Gdańsk, 30,000 ha in the Notec Basin, and 25,000 ha in the Odra Basin. Pollution from industrial, agricultural, and urban sources and hunting are other problems threatening wetlands and their birds.
Of the 126 IBAs in Poland, almost half are wholly or partially without protection, and in many cases, the official protection that does exist is inadequately enforced.
was launched in January, 1992, with the aim of securing adequate protection for the country's birds and their habitats. Supported by BirdLife partners in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, the UK, and France, OTOP has grown rapidly, and by February, 1993, it had over 1000 members. OTOP is currently implementing the Polish Wetlands Project, which has three key elements:
Karsiborska Kepa will be bought and turned into OTOP's first reserve. Situated in the mouth of the River Swina in northwest Poland, the southern part of the island is covered with reed beds, while the northern part is mainly wet meadows. Connected to the mainland by a bridge and just 2 km from the city of Swinoujscie, it is ideally suited as a public awareness and recruitment focus for OTOP.
One hundred pairs of aquatic warblers breed on the island. Other breeding species include little bittern, marsh and hen harriers, dunlin (25% of the Polish population), ruff, and black-tailed godwit. It is also a feeding area for white-tailed eagle, red kite, and crane.
The area is threatened by plans to build shipping bases on several of the islands in the Swina Estuary. Other threats include the dumping of rubbish, hunting, illegal peat burning, and uncontrolled tourism. The island currently has no official protection.
Swarovski Optik is very generously funding the land purchase. Money raised by the British Birdwatching Fair (and the In Focus County Birdrace) will be used to provide hides, walkways, a car park, and information center, wardens, and other infrastructure essential for a successful reserve.
The second element of OTOP's Polish Wetlands Project involves managing key wetlands. Management plans drawn up by OTOP to conserve or restore the habitat for birds will be implemented in four wetlands:
Bielawskie Bog (700 ha) is an Atlantic-type peatbog with shallow pools and numerous drainage ditches, surrounded by meadows, arable land, and young pine forest. It is the only nesting site in Poland for wood sandpiper. Other breeding species include Montagu's harrier, nightjar, crane, barred warbler, and woodlark. Black stork, golden eagle, red-footed falcon, and hobby feed in the area on spring passage. The area has been heavily exploited for peat over several decades, and channels dug during this process have made the area drier. An extensive restoration project was started in 1985, with the aim of raising the water table, regenerating the vegetation, and maintaining the wildlife habitats.
The Narew River Valley (10,000 ha) is a natural permanently flooded lowland river valley, criss-crossed by a network of meandering natural channels. It is a breeding site for both aquatic warbler and corncrake. Other breeding species include bittern, little bittern, marsh and Montagu's harriers, great snipe, spotted and little crakes, black and common terns, bluethroat, and Savi's warbler. In the early 1980s, as part of a programme to reclaim the marshland for agriculture, a new 6 km channel for the main river was dug. As a result, the water table has fallen by as much as 1.5 m in places, and the valley has dried out considerably. Other problems include plans to extend an existing refuse tip in the area, and industrial wastes from a sugar factory.
The Middle Warta Valley (35,000 ha), the floodplain of the Warta River, is composed of pastures and meadows, with small fragments of peatbog, some marshy woods, and sand-dunes. Because of the periodic flooding, agriculture is low intensity. The area supports 50-60 breeding pairs of corncrake. Other breeding species include black-necked grebe, garganey, crane, bittern, little bittern, night heron, snipe, great snipe, marsh and Montagu's harriers, and common, little, and black terns. The area is also extremely important for migrating waterfowl, with huge flocks of greylag and bean geese (up to 15,000), mallard and teal (up to 20,000). The main threat is the Jeziorsko artificial lake and dam 40 km up-stream from the area but part of the same hydrological system. Lack of flooding in the valley below the dam has considerably reduced its suitability for birds.
The Chelm Marshes (2200 ha) are a complex of four carbonate marshes, mainly peatbog surrounded by hay and pasture meadows. Up to 300 pairs of aquatic warbler and three pairs of corncrake breed there. Other breeding species include bittern, little bittern, march and Montagu's harriers, black grouse, great snipe, and spotted and little crakes. The area is threatened by lowering of the water table as water is extracted for the town of Chelm and a nearby cement works. One area is already drained by an artificial channel and there are also problems with shrub encroachment, unauthorized burning of peat by locals, and uncontrolled hunting.
The third element of the Polish Wetlands Project is campaigning for wetland protection. OTOP will produce a booklet in Polish giving details on all the Polish IBAs. This will be distributed to decision-makers throughout Poland and used as the basis for a lobbying campaign to gain official protection for these sites. OTOP will focus particularly on Ramsar site designation. Although Poland is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention (which allows for the protection of important wetland sites), only 5 out of the 100 or so sites that qualify have so far been designated -- a mere 1% of the qualifying area.
The urgency of the cause is reflected by the wide support the Polish Wetlands Project has attracted. The project has received support from Swarovksi Optik, the British Birdwatching Fair, the In Focus Birdrace, and BirdLife partner organizations in Denmark, France, the UK, and the Netherlands. More money is still needed, however. If you would like to contribute to the international effort to save these fantastic areas for birds, send a UK bank cheque payable to BirdLife International OR a Visa/Access/Amex/Diners Card number, expiration date, amount, and signature to Polish Wetlands Project, BirdLife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge CB3 0NA, UK. Include your name and address.