The beginning of a new year is a good time for summaries. On January 24, 2023, a meeting of the Steering Committee of the LIFE.VISTULA.PL project was held in Goczałkowice-Zdrój, during which the results of the project’s activities, successes and challenges to date were presented. Due to the extension of the project until the end of 2024, participants were invited to continue cooperation.
In the meeting were participated representatives of beneficiaries, contractors, managers of fishponds and the Goczałkowice reservoir, as well as local governments where project activities are carried out.
Adam Skwara, deputy project coordinator from the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Katowice, presented the status of the implementation of the project “Protection of wetland bird habitats in the Upper Vistula Valley”. In particular, he presented the results of conservation activities related to the direct protection of islands on gravel pits, ponds and Goczałkowicki Reservoir.
Mr. Robert Soltysik, president of the Soley company responsible for the construction of the Bird Barrel on the Goczałkowicki Reservoir and part of the islands on the ponds, discussed the technical solutions of the construction and the stages of installation work. At the same time, he emphasized the great added value of frequent construction meetings, where the next stages of work were agreed on an ongoing basis. It was also important to fit the work into the bird nesting calendar and the fishing calendar related to the deadlines for lowering and filling water in the ponds.
The pro-environmental aspect of the use of PVC vinyl sheet piling used to secure islands and shores was presented by Mr. Dawid Jasinski of the Pietrucha company. A comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) study of steel sheet piling and vinyl sheet piling used for island construction and shores protection was commissioned by the Technical University of Lodz for one of its clients. The results of the LCA indicate that over the entire cradle-to-grave life cycle, steel sheet pilings have a significantly higher negative impact on the environment compared to sheet pilings manufactured from PVC. Depending on the impact category, the environmental impact of vinyl sheet pilings is 3.1-8.1 times lower than that of steel sheet pilings. Similarly for the impact in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Presentations were also made by the project’s co-beneficiaries. Piotr Rymarowicz of the Society for the Earth discussed promotional and educational activities – the production of a film about the night heron, an educational exhibition, catalogs, charts and promotional gadgets. Dr. Jacek Betleja, an ornithologist from the Upper Silesian Ornithological Society, presented the ecological effects to date and the status of the islands’ bird populations. The situation of the common tern and the night heron after the construction of the Bird Barrel and the renovation of the islands on the ponds is getting better – an increasing number of nests established by the birds each season is observed.
Director of the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection Katowice Miroslawa Mierczyk-Sawicka and co-beneficiaries emphasized that the motto of the LIFE.VISTULA.PL project is “People, Fish, Birds” – these are hierarchical pillars, without one there will not be another. The unquestionable success of the project and its added value is the cooperation between the various entities involved in the implementation, united in the main goal, which is nature protection.