NATURE 2000 comprises a designation of nature sites of EU importance based on the EU Habitat Directive and the EU Birds Directive. Identification of the NATURE 2000 sites has mostly been done by the environmental and nature consultants under the overall guidance of the nature protection administration. In Poland, practically all main river valleys are proposed to be declared as elements of the NATURA 200 network.
Following some consultations with water managers, it became clear that NATURE 2000 sites located in the river valleys imposed new challenges for water resources management (especially flood management).
The seminar organized in July 2003 jointly by GWP-Poland and WWF-Poland “NATURA 2000 – chance or threat for water management in the river valleys” resulted in a letter inviting the Ministry of Environment to undertake a joint project for the solution of these problems.
A positive response of the ministry initiated the project named “Establishing water management rules in the river valleys declared as NATURE 2000 sites”. The Steering Committee includes representatives of two departments of the Ministry of Environment (Nature Protection and Water Resources), GWP-Poland and WWF-Poland. All three parties finance work.
The main objective of the project is to facilitate the process of consensus building between nature protection professionals and water managers. To achieve this objective, three small working groups were established for Water Resources, Nature Protection, and Consensus Building.
The work was completed in 2004. As a result, guidelines for coordinated management of NATURA 2000 sites were established. It supported to improve the process of the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive that stresses the importance of nature protection.
The project demonstrates that multi-stakeholder dialogue is a basic requirement for the solution of problems involving different perspectives and priorities.
• Civil society organizations representing either professional categories or interest groups are most effective in societies where there is a commitment to participation and consultation.
• Regulatory capacity building can be seen as integral to the development of regulations themselves.
Importance of the case for IWRM
The case illustrates an integration of water uses and functions important to the nature. Some issues can create conflicts in water resources planning that are not necessarily the result of wrong or illicit approaches.
Planning for maximum net economic benefits is not sufficient. Issues of environmental quality can be as important as economic efficiency. The coordination of river basin planning with the nature planning processes are necessary.