Photo: Workshop with the community of Całowanie Fen organised by the Wetlands Conservation Centre as part of the WaterLANDS project. Author: Ilona Biedroń
Why Do We Need to Restore Wetlands in Poland?
In Poland, it is estimated that 85% of peatlands are drained and 99% of Polish rivers are in poor condition (WWF 2023). Poland faces a great challenge in that these wetlands need extensive action for restoration.
Despite recent policy developments such as drafts of the Strategy for the Protection of Wetlands in Poland for 2022-2032, and the National Programme for Surfaces’ Water Restoration, no decisions have been made at the national level for implementation. Solutions to water problems are still mainly through the implementation of further infrastructural investments without recognition of the potential of the services provided by natural ecosystems (Nature-based Solutions).
In such a reality, the role of NGOs, including the Wetlands Conservation Centre (CMok), is very important. The CMok team consists of experts and scientists who are passionate about the restoration of wetlands in Poland. The Association was established more than 20 years ago and grew out of an initiative to protect Całowanie Fen from illegal peat extraction and degradation.
Wetlands Conservation Centre and WaterLANDS: Sharing Knowledge to Co-Create Solutions
Wetlands Conservation Centre is a partner in the Horizon 2020 project WaterLANDS, which aims to restore wetlands across Europe, as well as to build a legacy for wetland restoration. The project is spread across “Action Sites” where actions are needed to restore damaged freshwater and coastal wetlands, and “Knowledge Sites” which have been identified as examples of where successful restoration has been achieved.
The valuable experience gained by Wetlands Conservation Centre through the protection and restoration of the Całowanie Fen provides knowledge to WaterLANDS through the Knowledge Site Wetlands around Warsaw.
Currently, the main activity of the Association is to disseminate knowledge about the need for wetland protection and the need to strengthen actions to keep the mires wet. Members of the Association share their knowledge and experience, not only in their scientific and academic activities, but much more widely: in the media, at expert debates, in meetings with farmers and with school students.
Wetlands Conservation Centre organises WWD conferences every year (this year's event was described in the WaterLANDS news. Leading this team is Wiktor Kotowski, a professor at the University of Warsaw and a member of the Association Board, who was a winner in the 2022 Science Populariser competition.
Ilona Biedroń's work in the Wetlands Conservation Centre as part of the WaterLANDS project expands the Association's activities towards water management. One of the recent publications under Ilona's leadership was prepared with local governments in mind. It is a brochure that aims to inspire action to delay stormwater runoff in urban areas and to ensure that water remains in wetlands. The brochure on wetland protection and restoration refers explicitly to the WaterLANDS project, which aims to support wetland restoration on a much larger scale.
The Wetlands Conservation Centre is guided by the principle that peatlands must be wet and rivers must be healthy!