To report on progress to the EU 2020 biodiversity strategy, the European Commission extracted relevant information from the EU Member States’ 5th national reports to the CBD. Of the 5 countries which had not finalized their national reports at the time of the synthesis (26th of August 2015), Greece, Malta, Portugal and Lithuania provided information to be included in the synthesis.

The 5th national reports were examined, and relevant information on selected actions under Targets 1-6 of the EU biodiversity strategy was directly copied. Thus, the information presented here is in the original language and wording of the 5th national reports.

The focus was on information that is particular to the respective Member State rather than referencing EU wide information. In addition, only information that is not directly reported to the European Commission by Member States was retrieved from the reports. Each Member State had the opportunity to review the synthesis of its report and to provide additional input. For more information, please view here. The 5th national report for Poland can be downloaded here.

EU target 1

Fully implement the Birds and Habitats Directives

(Please note that information from Member States in relation to Action 1a is supplied to the European Commission via other reports. To avoid duplication of reporting, information relating to Action 1a has not been included in this report)

Action 1c: Natura 2000 (and other protected areas)

The sub-objectives included in the draft 2014-2020 Programme, which fit into the Aichi Target 11, involve the conservation and restoration of valuable natural habitats, strengthening the management system of protected areas and the protection of areas of high natural value. Some of the measures particularly important in view of these objectives are: the implementation of conservation plans or management plans to provide a consistent Natura 2000 site management system, the creation of new and expansion of the existing national parks, the completion of the nature reserve network and the establishment of a system of wildlife corridors with an operational and management scheme.

EU target 2

Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

Based on available data on wood resources, the carbon content of tree biomass in Polish forests has been estimated at 1,099 million tonnes, including 26 million in dead wood (State of Europe’s Forests 2011). Moreover, the quantity of CO2 sequestrated by forests (along with soils and taking into account the use of forests) has been estimated at 51.9 million tonnes, which corresponds to approx. 14.2 million tonnes of carbon. The restoration of degraded ecosystems and their services is one of the objectives of the draft 2014-2020 Programme. This objective is to be implemented through the identification of priorities for the restoration of degraded ecosystems and the development and implementation of programmes for the restoration of degraded ecosystems and their services.

Poland has been making diverse efforts to limit environmental pollution (mainly of air and water) with potentially negative impacts on ecosystems and biological diversity. Deciding on a level harmless to ecosystem and biodiversity functions is another question in hand.

The draft 2014-2020 Programme refers to the issue of reducing pollution only indirectly within activities towards sustainable agriculture. However, binding EU regulations (i.e., the Water Framework Directive, the Nitrates Directive, the Urban Waste Water Directive, the Industrial Emissions Directive, the CAFE directive) guarantee that Poland will take serious action towards reducing pollutant emissions.

Action 6b: Ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure

A project of wildlife corridors connecting protected areas into a spatially coherent system – despite the lack of applicable legislation – has already been developed and is being taken into account in the Concept of National Spatial Planning, planning studies, and EIA procedures. Experience gained in this field will significantly facilitate the implementation of this undertaking. The draft 2014-2020 Programme includes activities such as the demarcation of a system of wildlife corridors with its operational and management system and an amendment of the Nature Conservation Act to take into account the management principles of wildlife corridors.

EU target 3

Increase the contribution of agriculture and forestry to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity

Target 3a: Agriculture

Poland has introduced the Code of Good Agricultural Practices; the share of organic farms is growing continuously (though their % share is still low, at 3.5% of total farmland in Poland). Although the fragmented farming structure supports biodiversity conservation, changes and trends, the growing use of fertilisers and the intensification of agricultural production need to be constantly monitored.

Target 3b: Forestry

In 2009-2012, the rate of forest cover growth was similar as in the preceding four years (2004-2008) and came to 0.075% per year. If this rate is maintained until 2020, the cover will reach 29.9%. It should be noted that land in Natura 2000 sites is excluded from afforestation until management plans for these sites are developed. As a result of distortions to the species composition of Polish forests due to former forestry management, which favoured quickly growing coniferous tree species, these species have dominated large areas of the country (70.8%), while, in the forest habitat structure, pine, spruce and fir forest stands merely account for slightly more than half of the habitats (52.1%).

In accordance with the State Forest Policy (1997), Polish forests have seen a restoration of forest stands aimed at increasing the share of deciduous species and diversifying the age of forest stands and the species structure. In 2009-2012, the area of forest stands that had been restored totalled 40,900 hectares.

Action 8a & 8b: Environmental public goods in the CAP and GAEC cross-compliance

An example of negative subsidies is subsidising farmland drainage, which is in conflict with the national environmental and water policy and which neutralises other positive steps towards aims such as small-scale water retention. From the point of view of biodiversity conservation objectives, water management on farmland should include mainly the irrigation functions of melioration systems and measures that enhance water retention. In 2010, among 6,421,000 hectares of meliorated land in Poland only 414,000 (6.4%) had water retention equipment and irrigation was conducted only on 105,000 hectares. In 2011, the situation was no different.

Action 9a: Rural development and biodiversity

The impact of the RDP agro-environmental scheme on the agricultural sector should be regarded as significant. One example of this impact is the doubling of organic farmland surface area in the last five years: from approx. 315,000 hectares in 2008 to approx. 661,000 hectares in 2012.

Action 9b: Rural development and biodiversity

Despite numerous measures taken against the fragmentation of natural habitats and towards the restoration of the continuity of wildlife corridors, land ownership structure in Poland (high fragmentation), imperfections in the spatial planning system, and transportation and urban development, may pose a significant barrier in reaching this target by 2020.

Action 10: Agricultural genetic diversity

Poland is an exceptional example of a Central European country where, thanks to the fragmented agricultural structure, local forms of crop plants have been preserved to this day.

Ex situ protection of national genetic resources of cultivated plants has been carried out through harvesting and preserving still existing local varieties of crops and related species in the Gene Bank at the Plant Breeding and Acclimatisation Institute (IHAR) in Radzikow.

Action 11a: Forest holders and biodiversity

In recent years, the use of Polish forestry resources has been below the level of natural capabilities determined according to the Forest Principles and the principle of increasing forestry resources. Since 2009, State Forests (approx. 78% of all forests) are subject to certification under the PEFC system (aside from the previously used FSC system). In comparison to other EU countries, Poland has the largest share of certified forests in the total forest area.

Forests cover nearly 30% of Poland, with 78% owned by the State Treasury and managed by the SFNFH. It can be presumed, therefore, that they are managed in a sustainable way. In accordance with the Forest Act in force, the main task of the State Forests is to engage in long-term sustainable forestry management practices, implemented with forest management plans.

Action 12: Biodiversity in forest management plans

In accordance with the Forest Act in force, the main task of the State Forests is to engage in long-term sustainable forestry management practices, implemented with forest management plans, with special attention to the following objectives: preservation of forests and maintaining their positive impact on the climate, air, water, soil, living conditions, human health, and natural balance; conservation of forests, especially those forest ecosystems which constitute natural elements of the native environment or which are particularly valuable from the perspective of environmental diversity, forest genetic resources, landscape features and scientific needs; protection of soils and land particularly vulnerable to destruction or damage and of special social significance; conservation of surface water and groundwater and water retention in catchment areas; production of timber, raw materials and minor forest products based on rational forest management. Certification in the FSC system applies to all Regional Directorates of State Forests (RDSF) in Poland except for Krosno, while certification in the PEFC system is applicable to all RDSFs.

EU target 4

Ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources and ensuring good environmental status of the marine environment

Action 13b: Fish stock management

One of the objectives of the draft 2014-2020 Programme is to support biological diversity through sustainable fishery management. This objective is to be implemented through, inter alia: the development of long-term management plans which take into account the environmental impact of fish harvesting and restocking for all commercially exploited stocks, the introduction of regulations aimed at restricting discards, and the development and implementation of EIA rules for fisheries and aquaculture.

Data link:

Action 14a: Adverse impacts on fish stocks, species, habitats and ecosystems

Since 2006, the National Marine Fisheries Research Institute has been implementing the Incidental Catches of Cetaceans Monitoring Programme, based on obligations arising from Regulation (EC) 812/2004. Since 2011, the programme has also included incidental catches of seabirds and endangered fish species, such as the twaite shad (Alosa fallax), or fish originating from reintroduction programmes, such as the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus). From the beginning of the programme's existence, no incidental catch of cetaceans or other marine mammals has been recorded and protected fish species were not found in the monitored catches either.

In 2008-2011, with the NFEP&WM's support, a project involving active protection of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) against catching was implemented. It consisted in installing a line barrier of acoustic deterrents in the mouth of the Bay of Puck (Zatoka Pucka) in order to prevent porpoises from swimming into the fishing grounds of high net density.

EU target 5

Combat Invasive Alien Species

In 2009-2013, scientific studies on invasive alien species with the creation of a central database of these species, as well as numerous projects for limiting their impact and for their removal from nature reserves and national parks were conducted in Poland. One of the strategic goals of the draft 2014-2020 Programme is to limit the pressure of invasive and conflicting species, and operations planned to help reach this objective involve raising awareness, developing and implementing an action plan and creating an invasive alien species monitoring system.

EU target 6

Help avert global biodiversity loss

Action 17c: Drivers of biodiversity loss

Data on economic incentives harmful to biodiversity are incomplete. The majority of institutions do not carry out such analyses.

Action 18a: Resources for global biodiversity conservation

Financial incentives conducive to biodiversity conservation in agriculture will also be provided under the 2014-2020 agro-environmental and climatic programme of the RDP. Moreover, the draft programme includes: pilot support for biodiversity-friendly enterprises, the development and implementation of programmes for job creation in services for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, and the implementation of instruments that support traditional practices of sustainable use of biodiversity resources by local communities.

In 2013, draft methodology for gathering and converting data on financial resources for broadly defined biodiversity protection activities was developed within efforts to implement the Strategy for Resource Mobilization in support of the achievement of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. In 2006-2010, these resources were estimated in order to establish the initial level to which needs and expenses could be compared in future years. The estimation covered both expenditure on supporting biodiversity in developing countries (approx. USD 1.5 million) and national expenditure from, i.e., the budget, EU funds and environmental protection and water management funds, on activities pertaining directly and indirectly to biodiversity in various industry sectors (approx. USD 560 million per year).

In 2014-2020, Poland will have access to financial resources for biodiversity conservation from EU funds, where the most significant financial contribution is anticipated under the agro-environment-climatic scheme of the RDP.

Also the NFEP&WM has planned priority programmes for biodiversity conservation –approx. PLN 150 million (about USD 48 million) for 2014-2015. The operational programme Protection of biodiversity and ecosystems of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism 2009-2014 envisages approximately EUR 20 million (approx. USD

27.5 million) for 2013-2016 for activities towards: an increase in the effectiveness of Natura 2000 site management and monitoring, an increase in the resistance of native ecosystems to the pressure of invasive alien species, raised public awareness of biological diversity, better education in this area linked with the issues of climate change and the economic value of ecosystems, and an increased potential of NGOs to promote biological diversity.

As an innovative financing instrument, an objective of the draft 2014-2020 National Programme is to initiate a pilot financial support mechanism for biodiversity-friendly enterprises.

The period after 2020, when similar-scale EU funding will not be available, may witness problems with financing biodiversity conservation.

Action 20: Access to genetic resources and sharing of benefits

In 2013, the Ministry of the Environment has published the contents of the Nagoya Protocol in Polish, conducted a wide consultation with stakeholders, and organised a conference on the implementation of the Protocol and proposed regulations.