Natura 2000 Wardens – monitoring of species and habitats disturbance

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The project „Natura 2000 Wardens..." involves NGOs and community volunteers keeping a look out for and recording of any abuse of environmental protection laws, that could lead to the destruction of species populations and their habitats, in accordance with the Appendices I, II and IV of the Directive 92/43/EEC. 

As a result of the project, the recipients will gain knowledge of the legal background to habitat and species protection.
Having a good diversity of participants will assure that an exchange of experience between groups will improve cooperation amongst them in the implementation of the Natura 2000 network.
The aim the project is to:
  • increase knowledge about legal aspects of nature protection among local authorities and other decision makers who are responsible for conservation;
  • increase the skills of NGOs in monitoring the abuse of legislation in nature conservation;
  • start, or strengthen, cooperation between NGOs and local authorities working for nature protection, prevention of losses and arranging for compensation
Target groups
Main recipients of the project are:
  • local authorities, responsible for land use policies and competent in nature conservation;
  • decision makers in nature conservation (including the Nature Conservators, Environmental Inspectorate, directors of the landscape parks);
  • NGOs, able to act as the warden organizations monitoring implementation and fulfillment of conservation laws (community/public notification of the abuse of habitats and species)
Geographical scope of the project and monitoring 
Promotion of the project and its educational effects will be at the national and international level
Geographical scope and range of the monitoring
Monitoring is implemented in SW Poland, in Voivodships: dolnośląskie, wielkopolskie, lubuskie i opolskie.
The project gathers information about the destruction of populations and habitats:
A)    of the plant and animal species from the Appendix II of the Directive 92/43/EEC (Habitat Directive) inside existing and proposed Natura 2000 areas;
B)    of the plant and animal species listed in the Appendix II and IV of the Directive 92/43/EEC outside Natura 2000 areas;
C)    natural habitats listed in Appendix I of the Directive 92/43/EEC
How to report abuse?
Cases of the abuse may be reported via this Internet website (function report abuse), by e-mail to or by traditional letter using the downloadable form (PDF or Word format) sent to the monitoring-intervention centre:
Dolnośląska Fundacja Ekorozwoju
ul. Białoskórnicza 26
50-134 Wrocław
With the annotation: „ Natura 2000 Abuse”
Monitoring package is made up of:
  • Activities of the monitoring-information centre, which receives the reports (from NGOs, volunteers, public) about abuse of nature. These reports may be made in person, by telephone or by mail. The reports are collected and standardized into a common format, which will help the phenomenon of abuse be recognized in all four regions, and will make it easy to build a summary of any losses of species populations and habitats. Information about abuse is made available to public administration and NGOs.
  • Verification of the most serious cases of abuse in the field, with preparation of standard format reports, with geographical data, maps and photographic documentation. Field experts will check the reported cases. The competent investigative naturalist will be chosen according to the location of the case and to type of species or habitat.
  • Peer review of field reports by experts. Specialists will advise on the methodology, final conclusions or any need for appropriate counteractions.
  • Reports: both the preliminary and final statements on cases of abuse will be distributed to the decision makers in environment protection, including selected European partners and institutions.
Educational activities for the local authorities and other  groups that make conservation decisions will focus on the cases of abuse, and promote good practices in conservation. They comprise:
  • Publication “Nature Wardens” with analysis of the legal aspects of the abuse cases, examples of the good practices in abuse prevention. This will particularly focus on well-funded linear development projects - roads, rivers, pipelines, railways - where many abuses have occurred. These publications be distributed at conferences and seminars and among local authorities.
  • Organization of the national conference “Nature Wardens” for regional level decision-makers in conservation, and environmental NGOs, including international partners. Topics: sharing experience in implementation of the Natura 2000 network, community monitoring programmes, partnerships for nature conservation, good practices in prevention and mitigation work.
  • Regional, one-day seminars “Implementation of the nature conservation legislation in practice” in different Voivodships . Topics: case studies about abuse, legal aspects, andpositive examples of preventing nature destruction.
 Origin of the project
Implementation of the acquis communitaire in nature conservation faces considerable problems that result from the low level of awareness of the Natura 2000 system. The need for improvement of awareness levels is especially vital in the groups that are responsible for land use planning policies, and nature conservation, and mainly at the local level. The project idea was born while observing the functioning of the nature conservation administration that was in place when the Polish legislation was not adjusted to meet the EU legislation. In recent years, in the dolnośląskie Voivodship alone, many valued natural sites have been destroyed, due to the lack of an effective environmental impact assessment system within the development control system:
  • significant depreciation of the Scarce Fritillary (Euphydryas maturna) in the planned Natura 2000 site “Przeplatki nad Bystrzycą” (“Nymphalids on Bystrzyca river”) where wrongly planned renovation of the local road, together with the removal of the ash saplings on the roadside, caused 80% decrease of the population between 2005 and 2007;
  • Between 2004 and 2006 there was significant depreciation of the submountainous meadow habitats 6510 and 6250 in Kamienna Góra forest district (outsidea planned Natura 2000 site). It was afforested because of the systematic implementation of the rigid law which forced forestry to plant trees on land it had received from the national land agency;
  • Destruction of three hectares of the mountainous alluvial forest (habitat *91E0) at the border of the Natura 2000 site “Góry Bialskie i Grupa Śnieżnika” with six protected plant species. Also destruction of the *91E0 habitat on the slopes of the Klasztorzysko Mountain (2004);
  • destruction of 3 hectares of the mosaic of meadow and fen habitats in Bielawica stream catchment with a population of Western marsh-orchid  Dactylorhiza majalis, during earth works which caused total drainage of the area (2004-2005)
Sabina Lubaczewska, project manager
cooperation: Krzysztof Smolnicki
dr Krzysztof Świerkosz, project consultant
articles in this section: information > on project
  1. Natura 2000 Wardens – monitoring of species and habitats disturbance
  2. Project team meeting in Spain
  3. Włodzica river - case study
Supported by a grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism.
Co-financing: The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)
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