Ecosystem Approach

Ecosystem Approach Sourcebook - Case-Study Details

1. Project Details
Author or Responsible Organization JOANNA GÓRECKA, Wigry National Park, Krzywe 82, PL-16-400 Suwałki, POLAND, phone: 0048 87 5632540, fax: 0048 87 5632541, e-mail:
Project Title The Conservation of Agricultural Biodiversity in Wigry National Park: Restitution of Local Breeds of Farm Animals and Restoration of Old Apple Cultivars
Date of Publication
Project Status
Project Start Date
Project End Date
Countries Poland
Regions Central and Eastern Europe
Funding Source
2. Background to Project
Project Issue/Problem Statement The Wigry National Park is located in the north-eastern part of Poland. This part of Poland is called the ‘Green Lungs’ of Poland and is rich in pristine nature. Characteristic for the area of the Wigry National Park is the high diversity of ecosystems. Within the borders of the Park around Wigry Lake there are other, smaller lakes, rivers, swamps, forests and rural areas. The total area of the Park is 15,086 ha with 2,228.8 ha of agricultural lands. The farms in the region are usually extensively managed. Their average size is small (8 ha). The regional conditions for agricultural production are difficult due to the climate, the poor quality of the soils and the topography. To support nature conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources in the region, the Association Conference of the Services for Protection of Nature of the Green Lungs of Poland (Stowarzyszenie Konferencja Służb Ochrony Przyrody Zielonych Płuc Polski), the Wigry National Park, the Global Environment Facility with its Small Grant Programme (GEF/SGP), UNDP, and the Foundation EkoFundusz established a concerted project for the ‘Conservation of Agricultural Biodiversity in the Wigry National Park’.
Project Description The objectives of the project are the conservation of the existing agro-biodiversity through an increased population of local breeds which are at risk of extinction, and the conservation of the traditional regional apple orchards. In the long term, the project is aiming at the sustainable development of the region by improving the ecological knowledge of the local society. The desired result from these efforts is an agricultural production which is consistent with the natural environment in the Wigry National Park. The effect of the project will be an enhanced development co-operation among the services of the Park and the local farmers, increased earnings of the farmers through the development of agro-tourism, and the promotion of local agricultural products from the area of the Wigry National Park. From the 76 different breeds, types or lines among the Polish genetic resources of domestic animals that are at risk of loss, five breeds have been chosen: Polish Horse (Konik polski), Polish Red Cattle (Bydło polskie czerwone), Pied Zlotnicka Pig (Świnia złotnicka pstra), Green-Legged Hen (Kura zielononóżka), and Suwalska Goose (Gęś suwalska). The local breeds are characterised by: 􀃖 adaptation to the local conditions (e.g. climatic conditions) 􀃖 good disease resistance 􀃖 easy care 􀃖 sometimes unique traits, which distinguish them from all other species 􀃖 high fertility 􀃖 high feeding efficiency 􀃖 basis for specific regional products The Polish Horse is a cousin of the Tarpan Bilgoraj Forest Horse. It has a gentle, calm and pleasant character and is strong and durable in work. The Polish Horse is suitable for horseback riding or for use in carts. The Polish Red Cattle is characterised through its red colour of the fur. It is a local dairy cattle that has earlier been raised in the north-eastern part of Poland. The milk from this cow is of high quality with a high content of fat and protein. The Zlotnicka Pig is suitable for the production of meat and lard. Earlier it was bred in the region of Wilenszczyzna (Vilnius region) in Lithuania. The meat from the Zlotnicka Pig is very appetising, has a large share of internal grease and is very good for the production of durable pork. Females of the Zlotnicka Pig fit to cross-breeding with other breeds. The Suwalska Goose comes from Suwalszczyzna in the north-eastern part of Poland. This breed has good traits of meat and the geese may be used for cross-breeding. The Green- Legged Hen is very independent and characterised by the ability to find the majority of its fodder on its own in the grass. Its meat is of excellent taste with lower levels of cholesterol in the yolk of its eggs. The realisation of the project consists of four parts: During the initial stage, an inquiry among farmers within the area of the Wigry National Park had been carried out, accompanied by a consultation with the National Focal Point for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources. Through this, more than thirty different subspecies of apples could be identified in the old orchards of the Wigry National Park. The second important part of the project is the training for farmers. From May 2003 until today, already ten meetings with farmers were held. During the trainings, farmers are provided with information about local breeds and the management of old orchards and of apple tree species. Two excursions to places with similar projects were organised: to Kurpie, where the institute "Społeczny Instytut Ekologiczny" realised a model project on agro-biodiversity, and to the lower Wisla Valley, where cultivars of old fruit trees were re-established. A package of seven folders was published for the education of the farmers. These folders include information on different breeds of farm animals, about old apple tree species and basic information about the National Agri-Environmental Programme. The core of the project is the re-production of young trees of a traditional apple tree species as well as the preservation of apple trees, the purchase of animals and their restitution to the farms in the region, and finally the breeding of animals. The cultivation of young apple trees is situated in Tartak at the Wigry Lake. In April 2004, 300 trees were planted, which were inoculated in the following August. Remaining tasks soon to be realised are the transplantation of the young apple trees to the traditional orchards of the farmers, and the purchase of animals: ten Polish Horses, nine Polish Red Cattle, eight Zlotnicka Pigs, 100 Green-Legged Hens, and 100 Suwalska Geese. The animals will be bought in 2005. The final stage of the project will concentrate on the promotion of the farms which take part in the programme, and on the promotion of the products from their animals and orchards. Advertisements in publications, the participation of the farmers in local fairs, tourist events etc. will help to achieve this goal.
Conclusions The expected effect of the project and its development perspectives is that the animals and the orchards will be attractions for tourists. The products (eggs, pork, meat) will stand out for their specific value of taste and for their high quality. A regional ‘brand’ will be created for the commercialisation of the products to stand out from other products of this type. Furthermore, the farmers who keep the horses and cows will have the possibility to take part in the National Agricultural Programme – packet G01 that is concerned with the conservation of animal genetic resources.
3. Sectors and Biomes
Sectors Agriculture
Biomes Agricultural Biodiversity
4. Tools and Approaches
Tools and Approaches   Relevance
Management and Incentives 3-High
- Incentives 3-High
5. Issues
Issues   Relevance
Economics, Trade and Incentive Measures 2-Medium
Governance, Law and Policy 3-High
Protected Areas / In-Situ Conservation 3-High
Sustainable Use of Biodiversity 3-High
Tourism and Biodiversity 2-Medium
6. Ecosystem Approach
7. Lessons Learned and the Outcomes
Lessons Learned
Other Information
8. References
References This case study and further information can be found in Opportunities of EU Agricultural Policy Instruments for Biodiversity Conservation and Integrated Rural Development in Protected Areas of the New Member States, Report of the workshop convened by the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation at the International Academy for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm October 27 - 30, 2004. Editors: Horst Korn, Rainer Schliep Cordula Epple
9. Contact Details
Contact Person Ms. Diana Mortimer
Job Title Ecosystem Approach Officer
Organization Joint Nature Conservation Committee
Address Monkstone House, City Road,
Postal Code PE13 4LA
City Peterborough
ZIP/State/Province Cambs
Telephone +44 1733 866857
Fax +44 1733 555948
E-mail Address