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The white stork (Ciconia ciconia) is a protected species under the Nature Protection Act, the Bonn Convention, the Bern Convention, the Ramsar Convention and the EU Birds Directive. The programme “Protection of the White Stork and its Habitats” has been ongoing at national level in Poland since 1995.

The white stork is one of the most recognizable birds in Poland and it is also an iconic species, which means that by preserving it through active protection of its feeding and breeding grounds, we also protect many other species.

By protecting wetlands, ponds, wet meadows etc., which are the stork’s main foraging grounds, it is possible to preserve valuable natural habitats with a full range of plants and animals, such as seed-eating birds or rare orchids, without incurring additional costs.

The session was led by Marek Krysztoforski, an expert with many years of experience in agricultural consultancy, and Karol Podyma from the Łąki Kwietne Foundation shared their knowledge, focusing on important aspects related to biodiversity and soil regeneration.

In 2024, the 8th World White Stork Census is taking place. Organized once every 10 years, it engages both environmental organizations and individuals each time. Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers during the last Census in 2014, the population of white storks in Poland was estimated at around 45,000 pairs. Unfortunately, the general trend over recent decades indicates a gradual decline in the white stork population in Poland. Therefore, Poland, historically known for having the world’s largest population of white storks, has recently lost its leading position. This highlights the need for ongoing conservation efforts.

To halt this declining population trend, it is recommended to implement active conservation measures for this species. Primarily, it is essential to minimize threats to the population, such as the shrinking area of suitable habitats, improper watercourse reclamation, leaving trash in fields which is then carried by birds to nests, nest predation, poor condition or unsafe positioning of nests and last but not least risk of electrocution.

To improve the safety of breeding sites, the following actions can be undertaken:

  • Renovate old and damaged nests; set up nesting platforms.
  • Prune branches of trees where nests are located.
  • Erect free-standing poles with platforms for nests in place of destroyed ones.
  • Remove strings, foils, wires, and other debris from nests.
  • Secure overhead power lines, transformers, and electrical poles.

“White Stork Village” Project

In the regions where Greenvolt Power develops renewable projects, we also promote ecological awareness and social education, implementing our Biodiversity Strategy. In 2023, we launched the “White Stork Village” environmental-social project in one of the communes where we operate, which is known for high number of white storks. This project aims to protect local nature and educate children, concentrating on this unique species and promoting biodiversity in general.

As part of the project, we monitor the white stork population in the municipality, assess the condition and trends of the breeding population, analyze threats, and define actions to improve the breeding conditions of white storks in the commune.

The project started in April 2023 As part of the inventory, two surveys of the entire commune area were carried out, during which the population of the white stork was inventoried, the condition of this species’ population in the commune was assessed, and the state of the occupied nests was evaluated. In cases where threats were identified, the type of mitigating actions was determined along with the period in which these actions should be taken. During our inventory we counted 110 nests in the municipality, occupied by pairs. Young storks were born in 89 of them, totaling 168 chicks!

As part of the project the breeding sites of white storks were identified and  recommendations for improvements were set, including:

  • Installing breeding platforms on utility poles and buildings.
  • Relocating nests to free-standing poles with nesting platforms.
  • Erecting new poles in convenient locations for breeding.
  • Renovating nests, including reducing the size of large nests and trimming branches on the flight path to the nest

In 2024, we continue monitoring white storks and focus on socio-educational activities. Recently, we organized educational workshops for children from two primary schools in the region, divided into two parts:

  • Field trip with an ornithologist Sławomir Niedźwiecki who gave a lecture on white storks and, together with the children, observed a nearby nests, sharing facts about white storks, including:
  • Appearance, behavior, diet.
  • Life cycle from egg to adulthood.
  • Typical habitats and migratory patterns.
  • Role in the ecosystem.
  • Threats (habitat loss, pollution, electrocution, climate change).
  • Conservation measures.
  • Nest building and raising chick
  • Workshops conducted by BeeWild:
  • “Birds in the City and Garden”, focusing on understanding urban bird species, their environmental roles, creating bird-friendly spaces, including a DIY birdhouse activity.
  • “Wild Pollinators”, emphasizing the diversity of wild bees in cities, their ecosystem roles, and ways to support these important pollinators, culminating in a hands-on project to build an insect house.
  • “Urban Flower Meadows Workshop“, outlining the significance of flower meadows in urban areas, their ecosystem services, and how to cultivate and maintain them, with a practical DIY activity to create a seed mix and “flower bombs.”

These workshops collectively aim to enhance urban ecological awareness and practical involvement in biodiversity conservation.

Children’s competition

Considering that this year marks the 8th World Census of White Storks, Greenvolt Power wants to organize a competition for children in the region to join us in counting stork nests. This initiative aimed to engage young minds in wildlife conservation and provide hands-on experience in field research. We invited students from two primary schools to participate, fostering a sense of community involvement and environmental stewardship.

The competition results, along with findings from the comprehensive white stork monitoring efforts, will be meticulously compiled and shared with institutions coordinating the World White Stork Census. This data will contribute to a global understanding of stork populations and their habitats. Additionally, the collected information will be utilized to develop a Bicycle Route Map of Stork Nests within the municipality, promoting eco-friendly tourism and further raising awareness about the importance of protecting these magnificent birds and their environments.

Article written by: Sylwia Jaruga-Białaś, Environmental and Biodiversity Expert at Greenvolt Power

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