UPM Raflatac and WWF Poland, one of the world’s largest organizations for environmental protection, have signed a three-year contract to continue the cooperation on the ‘Rivers for Life’ project. The project embraces efforts towards the conservation and restoration of natural river ecosystems in Poland, and has been supported by UPM Raflatac since 2012.
“The private business sector can have an enormous impact on the condition of nature, positive or negative. As the Biofore company, we want to lead by example, raise awareness and find ways to improve our environment together with various stakeholders,” says Jani Konkarikoski, General Manager of UPM Raflatac Poland. “We’ve decided to continue supporting the ‘Rivers for Life’ project because sustainable development and the environment remain so important to UPM Raflatac.”
Poland’s rivers are some of the most beautiful and best preserved in Europe. Unfortunately, their unprecedented degradation has recently intensified. Estimates show that in the past six years, at least 20,000 km of rivers were degraded by flow regulation or other causes. Interference with natural river beds or felling riverside trees and bushes often take place without any economic justification. At the same time, these actions destroy natural resources and demolish the landscape of the valleys and rivers themselves. According to WWF Poland, unnecessary river flow regulations and so-called river maintenance are the main reasons for the poor condition of many fish species. This is especially so for species sensitive to interference, like salmon.
“The beauty of rivers and river valleys are a very important element of Polish natural and cultural heritage. We are delighted that UPM Raflatac is showing responsibility and determination by supporting actions to protect Polish rivers. This support allows us to expand efforts to further improve the monitoring of work carried out on the rivers, and to engage the public in the river protection process,” says Piotr Nieznanski, Head of Conservation, WWF Poland.
The activities in the ‘Rivers for Life’ project focus on monitoring work carried out on Polish rivers. This involves consulting documents that define the rules of Polish water resources management (Water for the River Basin Management Plans, Flood Risk Management Plans, Water Maintenance Plans). The project also promotes modern methods of flood prevention through the restoration of natural floodplains. Other aims include making the rivers passable for fish in order to re-establish migration corridors to spawning areas, and assessing the status of the preservation of river beds.
Actions taken in the project are carried out in cooperation with experts, local enthusiasts and state institutions. Effectiveness can be achieved only with the acceptance and involvement of other people. They are the ones who know how rivers in their area change day by day.
As in previous years, the partnership between UPM Raflatac and WWF Poland will also support the exchange of environmental expertise, and drive environmental awareness through planned events for UPM Raflatac’s staff, customers and end-users.