The Case Study in Zator, Poland

The Case Study in Zator, Poland

Zenon Tederko (Pro-Biodiversity Service, Poland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2824-3.ch014


The mapping of aquatic vegetation in the 461 ha Przyreb fishpond complex at Zator, in Poland’s Carp Valley, was to help balance restoration of multifunctional aquaculture with biodiversity conservation. Strong local support has encouraged proposals for a geoportal to give map-linked decision support.
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The Carp Valley region which includes Zator District is characterized by very high values of nature and local economy based on using natural resources. Fishponds and post-gravel- extraction water bodies cover over 22% of the district territory and aquaculture has remained the major sector of the economy for hundreds of years. Hence, the natural values linked to fishponds and water bodies within the region are the major component for a local sustainable development strategy.

Selection of Zator Commune for the case study was based TESS project criteria. Zator not only has high nature values and dependence of local the economy on biodiversity resources, but also high demand from the local governing authority and users of the natural environment for information to manage the resources sustainably.

The fishponds represent semi-natural ecosystem which is an Important Bird Area and a designated Natura 2000 site. However habitats in this ecosystem are gradually degrading through lack of proper management in stocking fish and controlling growth of under-water and especially over water vegetation. The system loses more and more open water each year and some fish ponds are nearly total overgrown already. To maintain biodiversity values requires a long-term balance between production functions of the fishpond complex and its natural values, providing the necessary level of profitability for people living on aquaculture on the one hand and the conservation of biodiversity of the fishponds on the other hand.

Through traditional fish farming, the ponds became refuges for birds and plants. Zator is renowned for extensive patches of protected flora: e.g. Yellow floating heart (Nymphoides peltata), Water-chestnut (Trapa natans) for which Carp Valley is the most important area in Poland. There is also a wealth of wetland birds, including Night Heron, Rosy-billed Pochard, Little Bittern, Bittern and Little Crake.

The case study investigated the potential for setting up a voluntary system of mapping habitats and biodiversity with modern GPS techniques, as well as developing a socio-economic project proposal for better and sustainable use of natural resources based on fishponds. Bird watching, angling (fishing), recreational tourism and extensive aquaculture (perhaps organic) could encourage protection of biodiversity and economic survival of aquaculture. Such co-existence is an indispensable condition for long-term survival of both natural values and fishponds, and livelihoods in associated professions.

However, sustainable use of these resources is complicated by conflicts between the interests of stakeholders. Conflicts result from two reasons at least. The first is lack of understanding of what Natura 2000 allows in terms of land use. This leads directly to an absence of development ideas which would result in partnership and co-existence of nature conservation and economic use, ensuring both financial and biodiversity benefits.

The second reason is lack of proper and transparent information on nature resources, their spatial distribution and business opportunities that could be based on these resources. This needs habitat and species maps, which would enable proposals aimed at revitalizing fishponds economically to be developed, while also providing active protection measures for their biodiversity. Subsequently, while ensuring implementation of Natura 2000, the approach would be to consider multifunctional aquaculture for diversifying incomes in the area. These opportunities require mapping of information on the spatial distribution of biodiversity and of existing and potential risks and threats. Therefore, the development of the socio-economic project was closely linked and integrated with the mapping project. The latter, apart from testing volunteer-based mapping, also provides information which otherwise would not be available on vegetation overgrowth in the Przyreb complex of fishponds.

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