Environmental Organisations Present Key Requirements for an Oder River Action Programme

Turn the Oder disaster into an opportunity for ecological revitalisation

Heron at the shore of a river

Heron at Oder River.

© mfragola auf Pixabay

Radolfzell, Berlin. Against the backdrop of the environmental disaster in the Oder which has led to the dramatic die-off in fish, mussels and other animals in the river, the environmental and nature conservation organisations united in the „Aktionsbündnis lebendige Oder“ (Action Alliance Living Oder) have presented key points for the restoration and ecological improvement of the Oder River. In this declaration, the alliance organisations, including EuroNatur, demand from the bordering riparian states Czech Republic, Poland and Germany specifically an immediate stop to the expansion of the river Oder, a consistent improvement of water monitoring and the setting up of a long-term financing basis. This crisis must be turned into an opportunity to make the Oder more resilient to man-made environmental intervention in the future, the alliance says.

Similar environmental disasters such as the Sandoz chemical accident on the river Rhine showed that flowing water can recover relatively quickly if decisive action is taken. „We now need the political will to clarify the cause and the openness of the authorities to closely examine all relevant influential factors and measures in order to restore the Oder, and at last bring it into a good ecological condition. This especially concerns the ongoing expansion works on the Oder, which raise the water run-off and thus endanger massively its dynamic characteristics as well as the river‘s resilience in face of increasing low-water periods,“ says DNR managing director Florian Schöne on behalf of the ten organisations involved in the action alliance.

With a view to the German-Polish Environment Council on 29 August, the participating organisations, among them EuroNatur, are therefore requesting to develop a comprehensive „Oder Action Plan“. The alliance members see an obligation on the part of the riparian states Czech Republic, Poland and Germany to improve the river landscape over the next five years in a significant and sustainable manner by means of an overall ecological concept.

„It would be gross negligence to stick to the expansion plans for the Oder. The Oder environmental catastrophe shows in a dramatic way how quickly a river ecosystem can completely get out of balance due to human impacts on the environment. It is now crucial that politics in particular learns from the crisis and finally gives the highest priority to the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive“, says EuroNatur Executive Director Gabriel Schwaderer.

Background information:

  • The Oder is one of the last large, near-natural rivers in Europe. For about 500 kilometers, the Oder flows into the Baltic Sea without major obstructions, surrounded by intact and species-rich floodplains. The Polish and German governments have been carrying out planning on the Oder for years, ostensibly to improve flood protection. However, an expert report commissioned by the Oder Alliance showed that these plans would increase the flood risk. And what's more: Poland's inland waterway strategy even envisages an expansion to an international waterway. However, the already approved plans violate EU environmental law, destroy protected areas with their natural landscapes and endanger species and ecosystems.
  • The Aktionsbündnis lebendige Oder (Action Alliance Living Oder) is made up of 10 environmental and nature conservation organizations that are working together to ensure that the Border Oder river, the Oder estuary and its surroundings are once again developed into a living Oder river. Members of the „Aktionsbündnis lebendige Oder“ are: Bund für Umwelt- und Naturschutz (BUND), WWF Deutschland, Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR), Rewilding Oder, Naturschutzbund Deutschland (NABU), EuroNatur, Heinz Sielmann Stiftung, Michael Succow Stiftung, Verein der Freunde des Deutsch-Polnischen Europa-Nationalparks Unteres Odertal
  • Key Points for an Action Program to Revitalize the Oder River 

Contact: Katharina Grund, EuroNatur. E-Mail: katharina.grund(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: 07732-9272-10

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