Preparation of Management plans for Natura 2000 sites in Poland (PLH20008 and PLB200006)
Biebrza National Park
Region & country
The aim of the project was to lay the foundations for the effective protection of conservation features (species and habitats) of two Natura 2000 sites located in the north-east of Poland, in the valley of Biebrza River incorporated in the Biebrza National Park.
Background of the project
These were the first management documents for these Natura 2000 areas to highlight conservation activities. From the very beginning, the local community had a very negative attitude towards the Natura 2000 network and at the same time very little knowledge about it.
First of all, increase knowledge of the protection features and then protection measures that had to be planned, whilst taking into account the fact that most of the area is private land. Another important need was to increase the level of acceptance for the Natura 2000 network in the local society and to gain their acceptance for the planned protection activities.
Solution and actions taken
Initially, natural inventories of the sites’ features for protection and potential features for protection were made. Next, guidelines for the protection of particular species and habitats were prepared and public consultations were carried out. The final documents of draft protection plans were submitted to the body establishing protection plans for Natura 2000 sites.
A team of flora and fauna experts was established to carry out the inventory and prepare guidelines for the protection of individual species and habitats. Then, draft management plans were prepared by a smaller group of ecological experts based on the guidelines. Drafts were consulted with the whole team of researchers and with the Biebrza National Park Authority. The projects prepared in this way were consulted at many meetings with local stakeholders.
Other institutions or parties involved
Scientists, representatives of local authorities, local business, tourist agencies operating in the Biebrza Valley, farmers, NGOs and foresters were all involved and consulted.
The plans are still not approved so formally they do not exist. They cannot be used in administrative proceedings in the field of spatial planning. The local community has already forgotten that they have agreed something. However, awareness about Natura 2000 has probably increased a little in local communities.
Insufficient financial resources, insufficient numbers of experts in the field, lack of interest of local stakeholders and procedural delays were the main difficulties.
Consultation meetings with non-specialists should not be conducted by scientists. To this end, communication experts and preferably an independent mediator should be employed. The involvement of specialists in the work on the plan should be verified on an ongoing basis. At the same time, they should not be required to carry out too detailed analyses and guidelines, as the document then grows to a size that discourages everyone from reading it.
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