Press release 2021/02

Polish government wants to use Corona reconstruction funds for recultivation of the intermediate land of the river Oder in the lower Oder valley


According to an article in the Polish newspaper 'Gazeta Gryfińska' of 11th May 2021, the Polish government in Warsaw, represented by the state-owned water company Wody Polskie (Polish Waters), is planning to use the European Corona Reconstruction Fund (worth a total of 750 billion euros) for the recultivation of the Polish intermediate land of the river Oder (Międzyodrze), which is essentially identical with the Lower Oder Valley landscape protection park (Park Krajobrazowy Dolina Dolnej Odry).The EU had granted this money itself on a debt basis to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic. These funds were actually earmarked for investments that had something to do with the pandemic, i.e. for climate and biodiversity protection, digitalization, health and other topics for the future. As it was to be expected, however, 2.500 km of new roads and highways are to be built in Poland alone by 2030 with this money, which the European governments have approved for free disposal, without conditions or controls, as the FAZ reported on 17th  May 2021 (page 5).


These funds shall also be used to recultivate the Polish intermediate land of river Oder, which the World Bank, the Council of Europe Development Bank and the EU Commission, originally intended as donors, had finally rejected after initial prospects because of recognizable nonsense. Now the Polish government wants to finance this project on its own, but would prefer to tap into the EU's Corona reconstruction fund.


The area, on the German side known as the Schillersdorfer and Gartzer polders was diked 100 years ago by the Prussian state with Dutch experts. It was cultivated comparable  to the Fiddichower polder (Polder 10) lying on the German side today. After the end of World War II, when these areas beyond the rivers Oder and Neisse were redivided and thus became Polish, this area of about 6.000 hectares largely fell into disuse. The hydraulic engineering facilities were not put back into operation, and the water could flow in and out depending on the water level of the Oder river. A secondary wilderness developed. A second-hand wilderness, so to speak, which was so valuable that it was designated as a landscape protection park by the Polish Voivodeship.


The Polish government is now planning to bring this area back into agricultural use, to strengthen the dikes and to rebuild 33 intake and outlet instructures. 80 million złoty (around 17.5 million euros) have been intended for this. The background is obviously the hope of being able to collect an EU agricultural subsidy for this hitherto existing wilderness if these areas are brought back into cultivation. After all, Poland has more than enough agricultural land to feed its population.


But it would be worthwhile and without major capital investments to let this natural idyll continue to develop naturally and to make extensive use of the unique wetland, a low-level moor that is very important for climate protection. For tourist use, a beautiful circular path could be established around the intermediate land of river Oder on the old dikes for bicycles and pedestrians, from which nature can be observed. Extensive canoe tourism would also be conceivable.


In addition, the Klützer Querfahrt, which connects the West-Oder with the East-Oder across the Polish Landscape Protection Park, shall be dredged. Although located on Polish territory, the construction costs will be largely borne by German taxpayers. Then, finally, coasters suitable for the high seas will be able to sail through the middle of the German-Polish International Park Lower Oder Valley. But only one company, if any, will profit from this multi-million construction project.


Thirdly, the German Ministry of Transport and the Polish Ministry of the Environment agreed in 2015 to expand the groines on the border of the Oder more strongly. The Oder will then become narrower, flow faster and deepen its bed. Due to the lack of water, this is unlikely to improve navigability. But the groundwater level, which is already decreasing in the east of Brandenburg, is likely to drop even faster and more sharply. This planned construction measure is also not only a waste of money, but ecologically counterproductive.


The association of the friends of the German-Polish European National Park Lower Oder Valley registered association (National Park Association), as an active member of an association of practically all major nature conservation organizations, is defending itself against the planned expansion of the Oder river with both economic and ecological arguments. The project is economically unreasonable and ecologically a disaster.


The National Park Association was the first to discover the secretly prepared Oder expansion plans, to make them public and to make its voice heard by writing to the World Bank and the German government as a vote for reason. It continues to see it as its most noble task to preserve the remnants of secondary wilderness, to develop them and to make them accessible to people, residents and visitors alike.


The association board