GNF - Partner Region Poland
Poland – Milicz Ponds

More than 100 Milicz Ponds were created by monks in the Barycz River Valley in the 12th century. Today, many amphibian and bird species as well as various different mammals can be found there. The area is recognised as a wetland of international importance (RAMSAR site). Many Natura 2000 sites, landscape parks and nature reserves can be found there as well. Fish farming is the main feature of the area since many centuries. The intensity of fish farming in the Milicz area has decreased substantially during the last decade. It still contributes to the water pollution (feeding of fish) and habitat destruction. Eutrophication causes excess of reed bed development which leads to loss of nesting places. Decreasing water level of the ponds causes further problems such as increased water temperature and the necessity to remove sediments.


Another threat for the diverse man-made habitat is caused by the intensification of agriculture. Even though there are many fish ponds in the region and a high potential for sustainable tourism, the economy of the area is rather weak due to poor soils, lack of industries and infrastructure.


In 1994, the Polish Society of Wildlife Friends "pro Natura Poland (PTPP)" started a programme for the conservation of White Stork and its habitats, one of many activities undertaken by PTPP. The Society cooperates with provincial nature conservators, national and landscape parks, companies, municipalities and other non-governmental organizations.

Activities and model projects

Local communities agreed - during a strategy building process led by Pro Natura - that the ecological features of the area should be the basis for the economic development. However, it is necessary to find solutions to conflicting interests, such as the conflict between environmentalists and the communities in the Milicz area to convert ponds into recreational areas for swimming and sailing. Nevertheless, there is a common understanding that a touristic use of the area should be promoted and further developed. PTPP works on this topic with a number of partners, chiefly the Lower Silesian Development Foundation (LSDF) and the Association of Municipalities and Counties of the Barycz Valley (AMCBV). One objective is to include the Barycz Valley in the tourism development strategy of the two voividships (administrative regions) Dolnośląskie and Wielkopolskie. One problem is that further decline of fish production will lead to insufficient income and less employment. One solution is the diversification of the fish farm economy to more sustainable sectors, i.e. tourist services and guiding tours for bird watchers.


Pilot activities in this strategy comprise

  • Preparation of a tourism zoning plan including visitor management measures, i.e. the development of nature bicycle trails, bird watching and kayaking facilities on the Barycz River. The plan will be developed in close cooperation with the municipalities and other stakeholders.
  • Preparation of an eco-tourism operational programme for a four-year period, including design of eco-tourism products and services.
  • Training and workshops for tourist service providers, local authorities and other stakeholders.
  • Definition of agro-environmental schemes for the ponds in Milicz area in co-operation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Environment.
  • Training for fish farm managers and workers regarding sustainability criteria and alternative tourism activities (two workshops in 2006 and 2007).
  • Development and implementation of a programme to improve bird habitats and observation conditions of the birds and guidelines to improve observation conditions for visitors (e.g. observation hides).


  • Preparation of tourism zoning plan: January 2006 – March 2007
  • Preparation of an eco-tourism operational programme: January 2006 – March 2007
  • Study tour for tourist guides and entrepreneurs to Germany: May 2007
  • Seven trainings and workshops for tourist service providers: 2006 - 2007
  • Promotion of the tourism services (e.g. four events): Spring 2006 and 2007
  • Preparation of technical documentation: January 2006 – December 2006
  • Second study tour for tourist guides and entrepreneurs: May 2007
  • Criteria and preparation of the application for agro-environmental schemes: January 2006 – December 2006
  • Training for the fish farm managers and workers: 2006 and 2007
  • Programme to improve bird habitats and bird observation conditions: January 2006 – March 2006
  • Model improvement of bird habitat and bird watching conditions: Spring 2006 and 2007