GNF - 5th Project Meeting Poland

Science for Lake Management




Topic of the Meeting:

Barycz River Valley, Poland

1 - 5 July 2013

Science for Lake Management


The fifth and last meeting for the Leonardo "Learning for Lakes“ project took place in the Barycz River Valley in Lower Silesia near Wrocław, southern Poland. It was hosted by the Polish partner Environmental Association "Etna" (Stowarzyszenie Ekologiczne "Etna"). Here, in the 12th century, monks began to excavate carp ponds and the Milicz Ponds were created. Waters were funneled from the Barycz that flows into the Oder after passing through the wide plain north-west of Wrocław. The more than 100 Milicz Ponds represent the world''s largest concatenation of ponds as the area spreads over 70 sq. km. The Barycz plain covers a surface of 5,535 sq. km. Many of these Milicz Ponds can hardly be distinguished from natural lakes. A view obviously shared by the animals, as many species live there: 13 amphibian species, 250 bird species of which 170 are local nesters, and 44 different mammals. Another treasure are 80 male Bitterns. In autumn up to 16,000 bean geese pluck grass and weeds from the meadows. During the night, they retire to large ponds to outwit the fox. Additionally, the Barycz plains are important for meadow nesters like the White Stork, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe and Quail. This paradise is threatened by the conversion of meadows to farmland and by intensive use after Poland''s EU membership in May 2004.


Milicz carps are famous for high quality in Poland, but nonetheless after the fall of the Iron Curtain, few efforts were done to become more commercial. In the last years, the fish ponds escaped from Sleeping Beauty and start to reinvest and maintain the ponds to become more profitable. This results in some goal conflicts, as nature conservation and commercial fishery not necessarily share objectives.


The Poland meeting focused on science and its role in lake management: How science supports managers of natural areas at different stages – from the political decision on management goals, science-based management tools through to measuring results of the implemented actions. And vice versa, how lake managers can obtain information from scientists about important issues related.

During the meeting presentations, discussions and case studies should illustrate possibly all the issues. The meeting was planned along these objectives the partners agreed to learn about:


1. Where science supports lake management

  • setting management goals: management plans
  • tools: science provides tools for Management
  • monitoring of results: measuring impact, Trends
  • branches of science: biology, chemistry, management, social science, economy


2. Communication and cooperation

  • how to communicate scientific results to the managers and general public, so it would be clear and useful
  • how to share data
  • obligations versus free choice
  • cost of Research
  • timing


3. European dimension

  • setting management goals: local vs wide perspective (catchment, continent, global)
  • Natura 2000, WFD and other international legislation/ obligations


4. Challenges

  • how to measure ecosystem services, carrying capacity of lakes
  • management of risk and conflicts
  • revitalization
  • what we still do not know (scientific tools, problem areas)

Presentation: Moving from Evidence to Action Lake District National Park, UK


In this talk, given by the British colleagues, attendants learned about the numerous organizations gathering information on environmental issues. The evidence in interpreted in a very collaborative way by governmental as well as non-governmental organizations and, if useful, the public. The Lake District Still Waters Partnership, est. in 2001, is the main platform where the different parties meet. Here, from the evidence, an annual status report is written, which influences the strategic priorities of the partnership.


On case study was the Force Crag Mine, where high levels of toxic discharges were found. Details were explained. The main issue learned by the partners were that still many problem sites exist and that even with explicit laws,  the problems caused by this sites can not simply be solved.


Presentation: Economic Value of Lakes and Wetlands (Germany, July 2013)


Ecosystem services have numerous characteristics that are of public value. Because of this, the public and private sector use them without remuneration or offsetting. In the past years, the discussion of the contribution of ecosystems and their value for the economy and public especially has picked up, in part because of the “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity” (TEEB) study. The goal is to inform companies, local governments and the public of the value of the ecosystem services of lakes and wetlands, thereby promoting their preservation. The project should contribute to the current political and scientific discussion on the valuation of ecosystem services using the example of lake regions.


To do this, a complete survey of ecosystem services of lakes needs was made. It was shown how companies and the public can profit from these services as well as how private industry possibilities can contribute to the preservation of lakes. This general assessment is supplemented by a concrete case study of Lake Constance. This project is implemented in cooperation with the Forestry College Rottenburg and sponsored by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and the Federal Environmental Agency.

Presentation: Conservation planning in Poland


The talk was about forms of protected sites in Poland and how management is planned in these and for particular inventory species.  It is done in three steps. The first is long term planning based on good knowledge of fauna and flora. The second, is a task force planning to prevent further damages which is usually based on the existing data, but supplemented with new data. These tasks are usually carried out by contracted experts. Regional conservation authorities can in addition make interventional planning and take quick measures to prevent damages. For the conservation of endangered species, e.g. on the European level, wildlife conservations programmes are planned on a long term. One major and new challenge in Poland is to fulfill the NATURA 2000 regulations as these were not relevant in Poland before entering the EU.


Presentation: Dragonfly monitoring for biodiversity conservation: The Parotets project case study


In the region of Valencia, Spain, a project on dragonflies was invented some years ago. On very distinct scientific levels, photographers, scientists, biologists and interested laity collected data. The main aims were to establish a dragonfly monitoring network in the Valencia Region, to use this network to identify long-term changes in the dragonfly populations, to identify short-term changes in the endangered/protected species, to ensure that the data obtained are public and will be used for conservation purposes and to involve as many people as possible, not necessarily related to conservation groups. Beginning in 2008, 71 volunteers collected 7800 records and which in several examples led to completely new information such as previously unknown NATURA 2000 species-habitats.

 Open-air Museum for traditional Fishery
 Jacek Jasiński explains about Fishery
 Summit in the Shade
 Old Oaks as Great Capricorn Beetle Habitats
 Roman Guziak explains on Pond-buiding
 Managed Sports-anglers Pond
 Invertebrate Monitoring
 Magpie Moth (Abraxas grossulariata)

Site visit: Grabownica Fish Pond: monitoring of invertebrates


Fish ponds are not natural habitats. They are man-made and seasonal dynamics are regulated by human activities. The main is fish harvest, which in carp ponds is in autumn. Water is left out of the ponds and carps are collected  at the outlet. Nonetheless, during many centuries many aspects in the Milicz Ponds did not change. E.g. the ponds themselves after having reached the current extension remained the same. Therefore, between the ponds a distinctive landscape similar to alluvial and riverside forests developed. These remained unchanged, were conserved, developed and today provide a broad variety of vertebrate as well as invertebrate fauna, closely depending on the ponds. The institute of the Wrocław University monitors the variety, educates students for Biodiversity and is responsible for a number of conservation and scientific projects. Many biological data are collected and contribute to management of the lake region. Professor Dariusz Tarnawski and his team presented the methods of investigation of the rare beetle species: Great capricorn beetle, Hermit beetle and Stag beetle.


Site visit: Lunch at Niesułowice Restaurant


Carp-cooking-culture was underdeveloped in the region, beginning with the fact that local people ate few carp. Instead, the fish was exported to other regions. In order to use the recognition as a carp-center in Poland to attract more visitors, ambitious publicans start with new and traditional meals and menus and invented a contest on best carp meals in Poland.


Site visit: Ruda Milicka Gajówka Centre and Ornithological Station


Very recently and in terms to attract people to the region, also efforts for environmental education were strengthened. The NGOs repaired an old, abandoned farmstead and facilitates visits of schools and environmental groups. The education is done in close cooperation with the nearby ornithological station of the Wrocław University. Also local people are integrated in this approach, as virtual every house choose its own bird-species, with a sign next to the street number indicating the bird.


Site visit: Pond complex Stawno


Beata Orłowska, an ornithologist from the Ornithological station Of the University of Wrocław presented some aspects of scientific research carried out for the management purposes. First presented aspect was control of the Cormorant population. The scientists count the birds, study their food and estimate fish loss caused by the Cormorant and other fish eating birds. Basing on these findings, the Regional Conservation issues the permits for reduction of the bird numbers. In addition, there is an agreement to destroy the content of the Cormorant nests, however 15 nests per each of 5 fish complexes should remain intact. This is also supervised by the ornithologists. The participants watched the Cormorant colony on the island of the Słoneczny Pond.


Another aspect was the revitalization project on the Polny fish pond. The pond became to shallow from sedimentation, and there was an economic need to reshape its bottom. The scientists proposed the way these works could be done, with benefit for nature and for the visitors. The standard procedure was to move the mud and create artificial islands. This in itself is beneficial to birds nesting on the ground. Usually, the islands would be built as high and steep as possible. However, in the case of Polny fish pond it was agreed that the islands were designed differently, allowing some shallows for the wading birds and pioneering plants such as Coleanthus subtilis. The botanists and ornithologists from the University of Wrocław designed the pond reconstruction and the fish farm managers agreed and implemented the proposed measures.


Site visit: Ruda Sułowska


In a meeting with the executive director of the Milicz Fish Pond, the attendees could understand more about the conflicts between conservation and commercial use. One main issue is the cormorant, which breeds in large numbers around the lakes and eats many fish. Several attempts has been made to cope with the losses the cormorant causes. Today, the number can be limited to a certain extent by hunting adult birds. The number of birds is assessed by ornithologists from the Ornithological station of the Wrocław University. Here, also expert advices are rendered to balance the payments fisherman receive for facilitating acceptance of wildlife at the ponds. Yet, some motion is in this process, as fisherman begin to understand that wildlife at the ponds is also a source of income, if  facilities and infrastructure for visitors and tourists are enhanced.


Site visit: ETNA Meadows


ETNA itself takes responsibility for a large area of meadows at the northern rim of the fishponds near Niezgoda. Here, the participants could easily get an idea of what the biodiversity in and around the lakes looks like. European cranes, white-tailed eagle, Montagu´s harrier and a number of other rare and, in some European countries, extinct animal and plant species could be observed.

The choice of the meadows was based on the scientific recognition of the overall situation in the Barycz Valley and wider area. The meadows belong to most important habitats in the area with breeding Snipes, Cranes, Lapwings, and in the trees on their edge, the Great grey shrike. A booming male of Bittern was heard from the reedbed stretched along the ditches. Also, the scientists suggested the conservation measures, then implemented by the volunteers and staff of Etna.


 Milicz Fish Pond
 Weir and Water Management in the Area
 Natural Habitats between the Ponds
 Great Capricorn Beetle
 Site Visit with Wrocław University Staff