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Marshes and rushes will return between settlements

23 of December '21

Natural wetlands and rushes will return between the blocks of flats in Warsaw's housing estates, and with them rich vegetation and animals. Reservoirs and watercourses in five districts are to regain their natural character. As part of the "Warsaw Rushes" project, concrete embankments, invasive species and pollution will be removed. Special nesting platforms and installations will be installed to improve living conditions for birds, amphibians and other disappearing species associated with aquatic habitats in the capital.

The project of the Warsaw Greenery Board is a response to the shortage of favorable conditions for animal life in the harsh urban environment. New buildings and infrastructure are reducing the living space for animals. Pressure is also exerted by residents expecting orderly greenery, environmental pollution and increasingly frequent droughts. Unfortunately, aquatic ecosystems are vulnerable to such changes, and many species associated with them are retreating from cities. That's why Warsaw has taken it upon itself to restore suitable living conditions for protected water birds and amphibians.


Photo: M. Zakrzewska / ZZW

"Warsaw rushes" is the working name of the EU-funded project titled "Protection of endangered species associated with aquatic habitats in Warsaw," which the Greenery Board began implementing in 2020. It includes many pro-environmental measures, such as the creation of rush zones on ponds, the construction of water retention ponds, the removal of invasive species and the creation of additional nesting sites. All of this is aimed at creating a friendly habitat for animals that are increasingly rare in the city

Kamila Nowocin, deputy director of the Warsaw Greenery Board.

for birds

The first activity under the project was the placement of 20 nesting platforms on Powsinkowski Lake in Wilanów. The platforms, made of wood, reeds and fascine, primarily serve the black tern - a rare and protected species of water bird in the European Union, for which Powsinkowski Lake is the only nesting site in Warsaw and the surrounding area. In this way, it has been possible to maintain the breeding population of this bird in the capital. Nests on the rafts have also been established by, among others, black-headed gulls and great crested grebes.

platforma lęgowa

Photo: K. Babicki / ZZW

Last year, a special platform overgrown with vegetation was also established on the Piaseczyn Canal in Agrykola Park. This is an additional, year-round place for resting, feeding and breeding for protected species of birds and amphibians living in the area . The artificial island can be used by nurogos migrating towards the Vistula River, as well as coots, mallards, gulls, terns, screeching waders, swans, and, of the amphibians, green frogs.


The project also included selective removal of the undergrowth of invasive plant species in Warsaw, such as knotweed, ash-leaf maples, walnuts and acacia robins. They displace native plants typical of riparian forests and thus degrade the habitats of protected species of birds and other animals. This action covered the Middle Vistula Valley Natura 2000 area in Praga-North and Praga-South, Mokotow and Downtown. In addition, care was taken to protect the nesting sites of the river plover on the Wilanów shore.


The most important element of the "Warsaw rushes" project, whose implementation is planned for the next, final year of the project, is the restoration of the natural state of selected reservoirs and watercourses in Warsaw.

zwierzęta wodne

Photo: K. Klimaszewski / ZZW

We are now entering the most important stage of the project, i.e. the restoration of zones of natural vegetation and rushes in selected water reservoirs in Warsaw, where we observe the disappearance of protected animal species. We want to improve the quality of these habitats and protect biodiversity. We are particularly concerned with amphibians, whose absence indicates the ecological degradation of the area. Their extinction is unfortunately observed in cities all over the world. In Warsaw we still have places where we can hear frogs croaking, and we hope that thanks to this project there will be more and more of them.

Lukasz Polawski, project coordinator, ecologist of the Warsaw Greenery Board.


Photo: K. Babicki / ZZW

This year, technical concepts for restoration were created , which were preceded by numerous studies and natural expert opinions. Next year, the plan is to restore natural vegetation, create shallows, local de-concrete and soften the slopes of the reservoirs. Activities will include Brustman's Ponds (Bielany), water reservoirs on Tolwińskiego Street (Zoliborz), Piaseczynski Canal in Agrykola Park (Downtown), reservoirs along Siekierkowska Route (Mokotow) and ponds in the buffer zone of the S. Starzynski Kabacki Forest nature reserve (Ursynów). Several activities will be carried out in the latter location. The ponds in the reserve's buffer zone are probably the richest amphibian refuge in Warsaw, where you can meet, among others, crested newts and fire-bellied toads. Therefore, in order to protect it, the purchase of private land surrounding the reservoirs is planned. In the Kabacki Forest nature reserve itself, dams will appear on drainage ditches as part of the project in order to retain water, the outflow of which is particularly acute during the dry season. Maintaining the wetlands is also a protective measure for the aquatic plants and animals found there.

elaborated: Kacper Kępiński

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