Rewilding setting

The Oder Delta on the Baltic coast, straddling the border between Poland and Germany, is a unique region with a rich mosaic of large, wild ecosystems on land, in the sea and in the freshwater systems. It is strategically located on one of the ecological crossroads in Europe, the East Atlantic Flyway. It is now one of the most exciting wild areas in north-central Europe, mainly managed by nature itself, where wildlife has begun to thrive in more natural densities. 

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The Oder Delta region stretches over more than 250 000 hectares, of which nearly 70 000 hectares are the open waters of the lagoon. The Oder Delta has a very high diversity of different habitats – naturally flowing rivers, marshes, vast reed beds, alluvial forests, oak and pine forests, meadows, bogs, coastal dunes and open sea. The variation of landscapes creates a high number of different mammal and bird species:

  • Mammals: wolf, elk, wild boar, red deer, European beaver, otter, harbour porpoise, grey seal and recently free roaming bison approaching the area on a short distance
  • Birds: white-tailed eagle, lesser spotted eagle, short-toed eagle, osprey, Montagu’s harrier, hen harrier, crane, black & white stork, great egret, great snipe and aquatic warbler

The Oder Delta serves as an important stopover for migrating water birds using the East Atlantic Flyway. More than a quarter of a million herons, cormorants, geese, ducks, waders and gulls are recorded annually in the lagoon and surrounding wetlands, with most common species being cormorant, pochard, greater scaup and tufted duck, but with high numbers of rare species like smew (up to 35 000) and little gull (up to 5 000).  BirdLife International declared vast sections of the delta as “Important Bird Areas”. 

The local community and the regional governments are already understanding and investing in a new economic model based on education, culture, tourism, nature and attractive landscapes. The re-creation of more natural, wilder landscapes with beautiful wildlife could serve as a vital component of this new identity.