The FLAG area covers 20 municipalities and is of high natural value. Scenic landscapes with forests, hills and lakes attract a lot of tourism to the area, 60% of which is in the summer. Over 70% of the workforce is employed in agriculture (including fish farming), but incomes are low and there is a high level of unemployment (including high levels of long-term unemployment), especially among people with low skills. A proximity to the border and pre-established transnational cooperation’s, mainly with Lithuania, is also an important feature of the region.
There are numerous fish farms catching mainly freshwater bream, but also perch, pike and roach, which are sold primarily to local restaurants and bars or processed in small-scale plants. Angling accounts for ca. 30% of the income of fish farmers. Key challenges include low level of economic activity, an underinvested tourism infrastructure and the need to diversify and add value to fish farming and protect water quality.
The FLAG area has several protected areas including the Wigry Lake National Park, which is covered by the Ramsar Convention and by Natura 2000, the Suwałki Landscape Park which has the deepest lake in Poland, Hańcza (Natura 2000), the Augustów Forest (Natura 2000) and a network of natural reserves.
The primary objective of the FLAG strategy is the sustainable development of the area and this includes two key goals:
The FLAG will also support and carry out activities linked to the promotion of its area.
FLAG project examples and ideas include:
The FLAG has experience in a wide range of innovative activities to animate the local community. The FLAG is interested in exchange and joint promotion of fisheries heritage and natural assets. An inter-territorial project with other Polish FLAGs on promoting fisheries heritage; a transnational project with a Lithuanian FLAG on valorisation the area’s assets.
The public sector is represented by 20 municipalities and 15 institutions active in the field of culture, environmental protection or forestry. There are 77 businesses, mainly from the tourism and gastronomy sectors. The social sector is represented by 35 NGOs and over 150 individuals.