#HabitatHeroes Pioneers from the Biebrza National Park
Biebrza National Park in Poland protects one of the biggest fens in Europe. The Park’s Junior Ranger Programme runs since 2014 and until now remains the only one in the country. Read about how the Habitat Heroes from the Biebrza National Park help to protect their ‘natural treasure’ – the Biebrza river and its beautiful valley.
Meet our #HabitatHeroes: Junior Rangers of the Biebrza National Park
Tell us all about your “natural treasure”: Which is the species or habitat you learn and work with the most in your Protected Area?
Our “natural treasure” is Biebrza river and its beautiful valley. The Biebrza National Park protects one of the biggest fens in Europe. The area is really huge, it covers 59 223 ha and is the largest national park in Poland. The Biebrza Wetlands are renowned throughout Europe as important breeding, feeding and stop over site for many waterfowl and wetland birds. For such endangered species as the aquatic warbler, spotted eagle or great snipe, the Biebrza Valley is one of the last remaining refuges in Europe. Over 270 species of birds were recorded here.
In Biebrza National Park, you can see how European lowland rivers looked like many years ago.
Biebrza is famous for a large number of elk (700 elks) and few wolf families living here, too. So, briefly about our „natural treasure”: little civilization, a lot of space and silence, silence, silence…
What is special about it?
We (participants and mentors of JR group) spend a lot of time on the river, because we have lived close to it since we were born. We love swimming in the river every summer. Some of the pupils are from farming families and they work in the meadows with their parents, e.g. to collect hay. Some boys, sometimes also girls like fishing. We love kayaking too.
We want to help to save this nature. Every year, we help amphibians during their spring migration. We take care of tourist routes and clean them. There are a lot of birds on Biebrza, our goal is to know them, so we learn to recognize species on every our trip.
We also learn about daily duties of park employees. In the past years (2016-2019), we have been helping with the removal of alien invasive plant species.
Describe to us what you and your fellow Junior Rangers are doing/will do to learn more and protect your natural treasure.
„Know more” – every year we have 2-3 lectures with Park employees and 2-3 trips to the Park. These are outdoor learning combined with work, e.g. ornithological trip, or exploring flora. It is a good opportunity to do some practical nature conservation activities and to learn more about the Park.
We Save the Amphibians is a 5 weeks activity that takes place every spring time, since 2008.
Every spring, we save hundreds of amphibians from a death under the wheels of cars.
Biebrza NP protects amphibians on migration routes, using special hurdles, along the road near Goniądz. It helps to protect the animals from death under the wheels of cars. Every morning and evening Junior Rangers from Goniądz removed amphibians from the buckets and move them to the other side of the road. The number of rescued amphibians in 300 meters along the fen ranges from 200 to 5000 each season.
„Clean up the world”: we remove garbage on tourist routes on every our trip, clean the GreenVelo bike trail, sometimes we clean soldiers’ graves in the cemetery and in the forest, we paint fences on tourist routes, and wash education boards.
We remove and try to eliminate invasive species, growing near the tourist trail. In 2014 we focused on Robinia pseudoacatia, while in 2016 and 2018 on Impatiens parviflora.
We protect the Natura 2000 habitats. The last action (November 2019) consisted in the collection and removal of old branches and branches lying on thermophilic grasslands. They adversely affect the habitat, shading and causing changes in the species composition, and result in a loss of plants. We managed to clean a large area of grasslands around the Park’s tower.
Do you also teach others?
We do educate others. Once a year, we prepare and conduct classes for kindergarten and our younger school friends, children aged 3-10 (approx. 100 pupils). There were events with different topics such as: Elk Day, Animal Tracks in the snow, and “We help birds in winter” campaign, in which we showed how to build feeders and how to feed birds.
For the 100 years of Polish Independence Day we organised an event for children „White-tailed eagle – our emblem“. We made a special small nature theatre for pre-schoolers. We work as animators at the educational stand at various educational picnics like: Wetland Day, Elk Run, Bee Day. It’s hard work, we work sometimes several hours as volunteers to assist in games for families with children.
As Junior Rangers, we try to accompany Park employees in their work.
Our Junior Rangers participate in monitoring of Pasque Flower Pulsatilla pratensis, Pulsatilla patens; moose and birds counting, and autumn insect searching.
Every year we have a 2-3 day Junior Rangers Camp in Biebrza National Park. In this year camp (May 2019), which was dedicated to protection of wild pollinating insects, we built 15 hotels for insects. Employees of the commune office put them to green places in our town, Goniądz.
We also joined a programme called School Safari 2019/2020. In the framework of this project, we organise activities like lottery, or baking Christmas elk gingerbreads for children in Tanzania.
More about Biebrza national Park
Our team consists of about 20-30 pupils from small city Goniądz, located on the river. Every year some new pupils join to JR Program. The Biebrza NP cooperates with the local school. The group has volunteer mentors – teacher Mrs Irmina Sosnowska and Ewa Wiatr from Biebrza NP. We have support from the municipal office, too – which provides a free bus for trips.Check the Park’s Facebook page to learn more.
Learn more and keep track of #HabitatHeroes campaign activities!
Since 2018 we are “mapping the field” and raising awareness for the great work Junior Ranger groups are currently doing for threatened flora, fauna and habitats in Protected Areas and Natura 2000 sites in particular.
- Visit the “Habitat Heroes” campaign website: For now, we are thrilled to introduce you to our Habitat Hero campaign pioneers – groups already taking action. You will find a growing map and overview of Junior Ranger groups.
- Besides, you will meet our “Habitat Heroes” in dedicated articles – make sure you follow our news!
- Keep an eye on social media – the #HabitatHeroes will provide you with exciting updates from our Junior Ranger groups that take part in the campaign. Don’t forget to share their actions!
Want to join the campaign? We are happy to learn about your conservation action – just drop us a mail: [email protected]