Wild hub along Green Crossroads
The Oder Delta area, located at the Baltic Sea, is spreading between the border of Poland and Germany. This is a unique region with a rich mosaic of large wild continental, marine and freshwater ecosystems. It is strategically located on one of the ecological crossroads in Europe being one of the most exciting wild areas in north-central Europe. The vast natural areas are mainly taken care of by nature itself and wildlife has begun to thrive in more natural densities. Not far from Berlin and close to Szczecin and resorts along the Baltic coast, this wild landscape can create new sources of income and pride for the local people. A sustainable development combined with rewilding activities can secure these wild treasures of the Oder Delta so that they can serve as new economic opportunities for local people.
The Oder Delta region stretches over more than 250 000 hectares, of which nearly 70 000 hectares are the open waters of the lagoon. More than 80% of the area is protected as Natura 2000 site. Wolinski National Park in Poland (10 000 ha) and several different protected wilderness areas, like the Wilderness Area Ueckermünder Heide (10 000 ha), the Peene river mouth reserve on the German side (6 000 ha, with a further 27 000 ha wilderness area next to it) are amongst the protected areas in the region. The nature reserves Olszanka, Czarnocin, Uroczysko Święta and Świdwie on the Polish side (altogether about 3 000 ha) are also important protected areas in this region.
Other vast parts of the wetlands (around 30 000 ha) of very high ecological value are not protected but are only extensively used as meadows, or not used at all. They form mosaics of riverine forests, willow shrub habitats and half-open landscapes. The Swina Delta in the Wolinski National Park at the Baltic coast is the only inverse delta in Europe created by the sea inside a coastal lagoon.
The Oder Delta is an important stop-over site for migrating water birds using the East Atlantic Flyway annually recording more than a quarter of a million bird species. BirdLife International declared vast sections of the delta as “Important Bird Areas”. The abandonment of agricultural lands happening during the last decades has created opportunities for natural regeneration and for unique areas like “Olszanka Reserve” and “Anklamer Stadtbruch”. This has benefitted rising populations of the white-tailed eagle now having the highest breeding density in the European Union, otter, beaver, salmon, sea trout and many other species. A careful hunting policy on both sides of the border, together with favourable habitat conditions has created large populations of roe deer, red deer and wild boar. The area therefore offers a healthy prey base for large carnivores. Wolfs and elk are already reproducing in the area. Nearly unknown fact is that around 160 individuals of the European bison roam totally free only 90 km east of Szczecin. The Harbour porpoise reproduces in the Baltic Sea north of the Wolinski National Park and the Grey seal is expected to start reproducing again in the Pomeranian Bay.
“Coming close to nature gives us – the local people – opportunities for a new economy. Wildlife around our houses provides a potential for a better life. However, only when we understand this, we will protect it. We should be proud of our amazing environment: white-tailed eagles fly above our heads, roe deer and red deer are coming into our gardens, wolves, beavers, wild boar and many more iconic species are living in our vicinity. Visit this undiscovered place, experience unbelievable wildlife in the centre of Europe and fall in love with the Oder Delta, just as we did. I believe that rewilding is a good direction for both people and nature in this area.”
Oder Delta team leader
“What fascinates me in the Oder Delta is the enormous potential of natural capital. People realize and understand more and more that nature and wildlife are the region´s key resources worth preserving. Solely sustainable nature tourism creates regional value for areas off the coast and in off-seasons like winter.”
Oder Delta team leader