GB No. 2(21)/96


Ten years ago, during the previous term of the current president of the City Council, a plan to regulate the Sola river was stopped. Activists from the Polish Tourist and Landscape Society (PTTK) stopped this regulation in its first stages (although not before a part of the natural ecosystem was already lost). Some months ago, this exact same plan of regulation was resurrected by the same president of the City Council, despite the fact that the plans seemed to have already been completely discredited by PTTK activists, who reproached the City Council with destroying natural ecosystems and unique riparian forests. photo 1

Ecological NGOs found out about the present plans of regulation from a local newspaper, but only after 50 trees had already been removed. No ecological organization took part in the administrative proceedings, in spite of the fact that their activities are well known, and they take part in the tree cutting commission at the City Council. In administrative procedures, laws were violated many times e.g. investors didn't make an environmental impact assessment, did not make agreement with the voivod, did not inform any environmental NGOs about the regulation's plans. In addition, after protests from many ecologists, "explanations" appeared in the local media (written by the president of the City Council) which contained false information as well as slanderous comments about activists from Green Federation.

The most important thing is that the voivod agreed with the arguments of local environmentalists and suspended permission of all further investigation until completion of an Environmental Impact Assessment and a fauna and flora value assessment of the region.

Regulations were planned on 1300m of riverside made by: cutting trees and shrub, removing a small island in a corridor of the river, building two types of bands made from stones and pouring concrete on the riverside.

The proposed regulations to be made to this part of the Sola River could be estimated to make many changes to the local environment e.g.: removal of some hundred trees and shrubs, disturbing the river's natural processes of self-purification, degrading natural biocenosis (fish resting places, birds' nesting sites - especially those of threatened species), destroying the landscape of the valley, and completely ruining the poplar-willow riparian forests that are unique to this area.
photo 2
A part of already canalized river

Many protests organized by local ecological NGOs were conducted towards the Regional Headquarters of Water Management (RHWM) in the matter of these regulations (even the President of the City Council admitted the word "regulation" appeared in all the documents by mistake!). The terms which were agreed upon state that the project will be stopped after 240 meters (instead of the previously planned 1300) , nothing will be changed in the corridor of the river (thereby saving the big island), concrete will not be used, trees will not be cut and RHWM will inform ecological NGOs about all plans linked with the Sola river. In agreement with the City Council, the material to be used in fortifying the riverside was changed: instead of metal net osier, wood will be used.

The Sola river is the only one in the region which has pure water (second and third class status) and beginning from Jagiellonian Bridge in Oświęcim up, there is a natural corridor. This is why a unique natural gathering of riparian forests and non-forest species connected with the river valley's species of marshy plants and shrubs still exist. The valley of the Sola river is a mainstay for many rare species of fauna and flora. Biologists have found, up to now, 13 strictly protected and 7 partly protected species. They have also found rare butterflies and beetles. Presently a fauna and flora value assessment is being prepared.

The Nature Preserve Voividship Officer recommend the Sola and Wisla valleys, with poplar and willow riparian forests, to remain a natural space excluded from industry, service and tourist development. Therefore, local NGOs will try to enact "ecological use of space" (respected by law) on that territory.

Tomasz Walkowicz
Green Federation - Oświęcim
ul. Zamkowa 1/50
32-600 Oświęcim
tel./fax: 48/22/441934

GB No. 2(21)/96 | Contents