On 7-8 April 2022 in the Mierzęcin Palace near Dobiegniew, a conference closing the LIFE13 NAT/PL/000009, LIFEDrawaPL project took place. Over 100 persons representing a number of public institutions participated in the conference, including Regional Environmental Managements, The State Forests National Forest Holding, State Water Holding Polish Waters, national and landscape parks, universities, local governments, non-governmental organizations, as well as private business. The conference was divided into two parts: a report and a field one. The first day was entirely devoted to the report session. The meeting was opened by the director of RDOŚ in Szczecin, Aleksandra Stodulna, who welcomed all the guests and briefly summarised the project. Then the director of Drawieński National Park PhD Eng. Paweł Bilski gave a speech and thanked for the fruitful cooperation during the project. The next item on the agenda were commemorative plaques given to outstanding members of the LIFEDrawaPL project’s steering group, i.e. PhD Eng. Paweł Bilski, prof. PhD hab. Robert Czerniawski, PhD hab. Piotr Dębowski prof. IRŚ, Jarosław Gancarczyk and Józef Jeleński. After the welcome part, the substantive part of the conference began, which was started by Ireneusz Mirowski, a representative of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, who discussed the LIFE+ issues against a background of projects related to a river ecosystem. Then, prof. PhD hab. Robert Czerniawski talked about the conditions of the habitat of the Drawa River. Another lecture led by PhD hab. Józef Szpikowski, prof. AMU, concerned the role of the geo-ecosystem of the river basin in the sustainable functioning of the natural environment. What activities were carried out in the LIFEDrawaPL project in the context of restoring the ecological connectivity of the Drawa River was reported by Artur Furdyna. After the break, Mr. Józef Jelenski presented some restoration actions to the participants of the conference, as a tool for restoring ecological functions of rivers’ channels. In her speech, PhD hab. Mariola Wróbel prof. ZUT presented the way in which one of the project’s tasks was implemented, i.e. the reconstruction of the conditions for the occurrence and reintroduction of Groenlandia densa, the species extinct in Poland. While PhD hab. Piotr Dębowski prof. IRŚ characterized the issues of occurrence of migratory fish in the Drawa. After the dinner there were two presentations. First, Artur Furdyna, in his next lecture, presented modern methods of using surface water catchments, eliminating the conflict of interest between users of the same catchment area. Then, the representative of PGW WP of the Catchment Management Board in Gryfice, Mr. Wojciech Dzietczyk, presented the ongoing LIFE11 NAT/PL/424 project “Construction of a blue ecological corridor along the Rega River valley and its tributaries” as a complementary one to the LIFEDrawaPL project. At the end of the report session, the conference participants had the opportunity to see all the tasks completed in the project through a film promoting the LIFEDrawaPL project which is just about to be finished. In addition, the participants were presented with a film made as part of the LIFE16 NAT/PL/00066 project “Protection of wetland birds’ habitats in the Upper Vistula Valley”, LIFE.VISTULA.PL, implemented by RDOŚ in Katowice, showing the relationships between nature, man and his activities in the Upper Vistula Valley.
The second day of the conference included a field trip to present selected objects realised under the project. The activities carried out in the neighbourhood and on the Sucha watercourse were presented first, where the so-called an anti-erosion dam to protect water-crowfoots was done, as well as a bottom ramp in the Sucha River bed and gravel piles forming a riffle-pool system in the Drawa River bed.
The next place on the field inspection route was the fish pass at the Kamienna Hydroelectric Power Plant, where the conference participants were greeted by representatives of the owner of the Power Plant – ENEA Nowa Energia Sp. z o.o. As part of a short introduction, the representatives of the LIFEDrawaPL Team and Enea Nowa Energia Sp. z o.o. emphasized the importance and necessity of cooperation of entities in the implementation of tasks related to the declogging of hydrotechnical facilities in connection with new obligations imposed on Hydroelectric Power Plants, resulting from the new Water Law.
During the visit to the EW Kamienna facility on the Drawa River, next to the largest fish pass built under the LIFEDrawaPL project, the conference participants could see a number of interesting technological solutions implemented under the LIFEDrawaPL project, including the so-called fish guiding barrier, the purpose of which is to steer fish into the pass, thus preventing them from reaching the turbines of the power plant.
Then the group travelled to the Korytnica River near Bogdanka, where the riffles were presented. On this occasion, the participants were presented with the principles and objectives of riffle-pool systems and basic guidelines for the proper implementation of well-functioning systems.
The next points of the field day were fish passes on the Korytnica River, built in the towns of Sówka and Jaźwiny. The first one is a typical technical vertical slot fish pass connected to a sequence of artificial spawning grounds for lithophilic fish, while the second is a kind of circulation channel. During the visit to Sówka, Phd hab. Piotr Dębowski explained to the interested parties what the effectiveness of the fish pass with the RFID technology is.
The visit on the Korytnica ended the field part of the conference, after which the participants went to lunch, during which everyone had the opportunity to exchange information and observations.
The conference was a unique opportunity to comprehensively present the tasks performed under the project and to present the so far effects of these tasks, based on the research conducted in 2020-2021. However, we have to wait patiently for the actual and long-term ecological effect of the project, observing the adaptation of nature to these newly founded conditions of its functioning.
We would like to thank everyone for the interest in the results of the LIFEDrawaPL project and for participating in the conference. We hope that our activities will be an inspiration to implement other equally interesting and ambitious projects.
Presentations – to download:
“The role of the geo-ecosystem of the river basin in the sustainable functioning of the natural environment” – PhD hab. Józef Szpikowski, prof. AMU, PhD Ryszard Piotrowicz, PhD Grażyna Szpikowska – University of Adma Mickiewicza in Poznań;
“Restoration of ecological connectivity of the Drawa and its tributaries as part of the LIFEDrawaPL project – presentation of fish passes and infrastructure increasing the chances of successful migration in both directions” – Artur Furdyna;
“Man and water – mutual relations and their effects on the example of the Drawa catchment in the context of remedial actions carried out in the project. Does there have to be a conflict? Modern methods of using surface waters catchments ”Artur Furdyna;
Project LIFE11 NAT/PL/424 “Construction of a blue ecological corridor along the Rega River valley and its tributaries as complementary activities to the LIFEDrawaPL project” – Wojciech Dzietczyk acting Head of ZPI Catchment Management Board in Gryfice, PGW WP.