Few people but great impact for nature - cross-border alliance saved European treasure

The Międzyodrze area (NW Poland near Germany) is an amazing, almost amazonian inland delta hidden between two branches of Odra river.The 5,000 ha of wetland that have been undergoing rewetting and rewilding processes for over 70 years are a key part of the Natura 2000 site Dolna Odra. Planned largescale investments to upgrade the wetland to a controlled polder would have had a considerable adverse effect on all the alluvial species (Ramshorn Snail, Weather-Fish, Black Tern, Water Soldiers) and habitats (Natural eutrophic lakes and ponds, Riparian alluvial forests, Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities). It would also have endangered the coherence of the Natura 2000 sites and its protected populations. The plans (rebuilding dykes, floodgates, largescale dredging) would also have deteriorated the ecological state of the wetland and endangered the goals of the Water Framework Directive.  Thanks to intensive German-Polish cooperation at the official and social level between individuals and NGOs coordinated by DNR&KRR, we managed with a low budget to preserve the natural resources of this area through scientific reports and educational work on flood protection. Critical planning points have been verified and independent expert opinions have emerged, indicating the need to keep Międzyodrze in its current state as a core zone of the "Lower Oder Valley Cross-Border Protected Area Complex". We believe that cross-sectoral transboundary round tables helped to reach the decision to withdraw the proposed technical activities and so enable the sustainable development of the river and floodplains, while saving the environment and natural flood safety for people. Wolfgang-Staab-Naturschutzpreis 2019 has recognized our actions as a great success in the field of flood and nature protection in Europe.

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