LIFE Project Cover Photo

Protection of waterbird habitats in the Upper Vistula River Valley (Dolina Górnej Wis?y)

Reference: LIFE16 NAT/PL/000766 | Acronym: LIFE.VISTULA.PL



Breeding sites for birds on islands located in large ponds and reservoirs are subject to degradation caused by waves undermining the banks or by flooding at high water levels. Where this happens, reinforcement is required. A majority of islands in the Upper Vistula River Valley (in southern Poland) are overgrown with high and thick vegetation which prevents nesting of the common tern. Damage to pond dykes results in seepage and outflow of water, thus causing a threat of pond drainage. Therefore, clearing overgrowth on islands and retaining water in ponds are necessary measures to conserve habitats for water birds in the Natura 2000 network sites of the Upper Vistula River Valley. Moreover, the current state of knowledge of habitats preferred by the night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) is insufficient to enable comprehensive protection of the species.


The main objective of the LIFE.VISTULA.PL project is to protect and improve habitats of water birds, in particular the common tern (Sterna hirundo) and the night heron (Nycticorax nycticorax), in four Natura 2000 network sites of the Upper Vistula River Valley in Poland.

This objective will be achieved through actions that:

  • Improve habitats of birds nesting on islands;
  • Improve conditions of bird habitats on fishponds through restoration of pond infrastructure;
  • Enhance knowledge of the sites used by the night heron to facilitate the species? conservation;
  • Regulate tourist movement and access; and
  • Disseminate nature conservation methods for commercially used man-made water reservoirs.
  • Expected results:

  • Protection against shoreline erosion in 22 islands (10 islands for the night heron and 12 islands for the common tern);
  • Construction of one gravel island for the common tern;
  • Creation of gravel beaches for the common tern on 13 islands;
  • Protection of a total of 3 855 metres of dykes on eight fishponds;
  • Production of the document, ?Identification of feeding sites of the Night Heron including recommendations as to further protection measures?;
  • Ornithological assessment of four Natura 2000 network sites developed along with a concept for the channelling of tourist traffic and reducing the impact of tourist pressure on these sites;
  • Regulation of tourist traffic around the ponds exposed to pressure by creating roads and paths, and installation of 30 education boards and 150 guidance signs;
  • Draft of rules on the use of the fish-farm areas for tourist and recreational purposes;
  • Construction of four bird-watching facilities (watchtowers, look-out points) in the most frequently visited sites;
  • Assembly of two piers for anglers on the southern bank of the Gocza?kowice reservoir;
  • Publication of promotional and educational material, and organisation of workshops, conferences and exhibitions; and
  • Publication of "Good Practices for the Protection of Birds on Ponds".
  • The beneficiary expects the increase of the night heron population to about 850 breeding pairs (compared with 763 breeding pairs in 2015) by the end of the project, and to 1 000 breeding pairs five years after the project?s completion. The expected increase of the common tern population is 650 breeding pairs (compared with 541 breeding pairs in 2015) by the end of the project, rising to 850 breeding pairs five years after the project end.


    Reference: LIFE16 NAT/PL/000766
    Acronym: LIFE.VISTULA.PL
    Start Date: 01/10/2017
    End Date: 30/09/2022
    Total Budget: 4,315,534 €
    EU Contribution: 2,589,321 €
    Project Location:
    Project Website:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Regionalna Dyrekcja Ochrony rodowiska w Katowicach
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: ul. Dbrowskiego 22, 40-032, Katowice, Poland Polska
    Contact Person: Damian Czechowski
    Tel: 48324206837
    Fax: 48324206884

    LIFE Project Map



    • Birds


    • environmental impact of tourism
    • island
    • restoration measure


    • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)


    • 0 - Non applicable (i.e.species project)


    • Sterna hirundo
    • Nycticorax nycticorax


    Type Code Name
    SPA PLB240001 Dolina Górnej Wis?y
    SPA PLB120004 Dolina Dolnej So?y
    SPA PLB120005 Dolina Dolnej Skawy
    SPA PLB120009 Stawy w Brzeszczach


    Name Type
    Regionalna Dyrekcja Ochrony rodowiska w Katowicach Coordinator
    Regionalna Dyrekcja Ochrony Środowiska w Krakowie, Poland Participant
    Rolnicza Spółdzielnia Produkcyjna "Zgoda" w Malcu, Poland Participant
    Instytut Rybactwa Śródlądowego w Olsztynie Rybacki Zakład Doświadczalny w Zatorze, Poland Participant
    Polska Akademia Nauk Zakład Ichtiobiologii i Gospodarki Rybackiej w Gołyszu, Poland Participant
    Górnośląskie Koło Ornitologiczne, Poland Participant
    Ośrodek Hodowli Zarodowej w Osieku Sp. z o. o., Poland Participant
    Towarzystwo na rzecz Ziemi, Poland Participant