May 4, 2023
On April 28, EPL representatives had a meeting with experts of a Polish NGO Frank Bold Foundation1. Polish lawyers spoke about the system of managing the system and legal framework of NATURA-2000 sites, as well as various geoinformation databases.
The website of the General Directorate for Environmental Protection has a special geoportal with information about protected areas https://geoserwis.gdos.gov.pl/mapy/
The portal shows the data on all protected areas: national nature parks, natural monuments, reserves, landscape parks, etc. When clicking on a specific NATURA-2000 site, a link to its separate page on the website of the General Directorate for Environmental Protection is highlighted. At this link one can download a standard data form and view other official documents regarding this area, as well as basic information about the area including information on availability of a management plan. It is possible to check whether the area overlaps with other nature conservation objects. The portal also contains available data on species and habitats, a map of biogeographical regions, information on planned NATURA-2000 areas, details on changing existing boundaries of the areas, data on environmental damage.
By navigating the portal, one can find information about location of rehabilitation centers for wild animals with their contact details. Also, information on wetlands of international importance is available there.
This is only part of the geoinformation system, more data is available at http://geoportal.gov.pl/. However, it is not always available. This resource collects information from existing open government databases. It also has a function of chronological comparison of space imagery.
NATURA-2000 network in Poland was created in 2004 on the basis of the EU Bird and Habitat Directives. At the national level, the basic is the Law on Nature Protection (Ustawa o ochronie przyrody2, expanded legal framework can be found here http://natura2000.gdos.gov.pl/akty-prawne. According to this law, NATURA-2000 areas are the forms of nature protection in Poland. They are divided into areas of special protection of birds and areas of habitat protection. The planned activity must go through the Appropriate Assessment procedure, there are also general norms regarding protection of the areas prescribed in the law (Article 33). Taking into account provisions of Article 34, it is prohibited to carry out activities that, individually or in combination with other types of activities, can have a significant negative impact, in particular, on the nature protection goals of the territory, worsen the condition of natural habitats or habitats of plant and animal species, adversely affect species, disrupt the integrity of the area or its connections with other areas.
At the national level, the General Directorate for Environmental Protection is responsible for operation of the network. At the regional level, regional directorates are responsible for management of the areas.
Changes of the boundaries or liquidation of a special nature protection area for birds or a special nature protection area are carried out by an order of the Minister of Environmental, if it is justified by natural changes revealed as a result of monitoring and supervision specified in Art. 31, and after obtaining a consent from the European Commission.
When issuing a permit, the competent regional director for environmental protection, and in marine areas – the director of the competent marine administration, determines the scope, place, date and method of performing natural compensation. This is performed in agreement with the area administrator and in accordance with the scale and type of negative impact on NATURA-2000 areas, obliging to perform it no later than the date of the start of the activity that causes a negative impact. The costs of natural compensation are borne by the entity that implements a plan or a project.
The regional director of environmental protection or the director of the marine office oversees the implementation of compensation for damage caused to nature. He/she submits information on the determined amount of natural compensation to the General Director for Environmental Protection. The General Director for Environmental Protection reports to the Minister responsible for environmental protection. The minister responsible for environmental protection informs the European Commission about the established amount of compensation for damage caused to nature before implementation of the plan or action.
NATURA-2000 network in Poland covers almost 1/5 of the country’s territory. It consists of 864 habitat protection areas and 145 special bird protection areas.
For details, please contact:
Kateryna Polyanska, EPL environmental scientist