Competition for local cooperation networks for a case study and action plan on the formation of green infrastructure

The Competition aimed at spurring and enhancing cooperation and partnerships of local stakeholders from the Carpathian communes. Particularly, it called for the establishment of the so-called local cooperation networks, consisting of local self-governments, the so-called Local Action Groups (local associations grouping self-governments and other local leaders), as well as other organisations and entities, and finall the inhabitants.

The Competition entailed the following elements:

  • diagnosis of the state of, and threats to the green infrastructure, and analysis of the potential for its extension through, inter alia, the use of planning instruments and of the national spatial information infrastructure; performing a SWOT analysis;
  • local informational-promotional activities – augmented by an ex-ante survey on public awareness on green infrastructure issues;
  • inventory and mapping of green infrastructure elements in the selected case study area - with the use of the mobile application and geoportal developed in the project;
  • proposing a local undertaking related to the development of green infrastructure, with consideration to the local legislation (municipality planning documents, Natura 2000 site-specific Protective Measures Plans, local development strategies, etc.), and/or selected strategic documents (e.g. the national Plan of Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Biological Diversity, thematic protocols to the Carpathian Convention, EU documents on green infrastructure and/or biodiversity conservation, etc.).

The thematic scope of case studies was broad and varied, and could include (but not be limited to) e.g. the following:

  • green spatial planning - e.g. reviewing and updating local spatial planning documents, eco-physiographic analyses, nature inventories, revitalization efforts for the purpose of protecting the cultural landscape, "green investments", or applying other good practices of spatial management in mountainous areas;
  • green tourism - development of and maintenance nature trail networks, integration of green infrastructure (natural heritage / landscape conservation) into local tourism products and offers, sustainable development of tourism and recreational infrastructure, pro-environmental management of tourist flow, etc.
  • greening local spaces - other assorted initiatives such as establishment and/or management of local protected areas, urban green areas (green revitalization or urban space), private green areas (orchards, gardens, native plant species), traditional agriculture / land use.

Within each of the above areas, the following three horizontal (or "umbrella") aspects were supposed to have been addressed:

  • biological diversity - protected areas, ecological connectivity, Natura 2000 network, other means of conservation species and habitats;
  • ecosystem services - tangible benefits on the local scale derived (stemming) from elements of green infrastructure: provisioning, regulation/maintenance, cultural;
  • water resources, water management - blue infrastructure, water regime, water management, water quality (pollution), retention, rainwater management, flood and drought prevention, etc.

Altogether, fourteen Competition Teams from all over Polish Carpathians were established and went on to pursue their local activities.

The Competition concluded in October 2019. Altogether, nine entries were finally submitted. They were evaluated by a special Competition Evaluatio Commission and results announced on 30 November. The following Competition Teams became the 5 winning Laureates (with equal ranks, in alphabetical order; in parentheses: entities forming the formal Competition Team consortium):

1. BIELSKO-BIAŁA (City Government in Bielsko-Biała, Bielsko-Biała Bureau of Development, "Olszówka" Association)

Case study: protecting biodiversity in a nature-rich hill area lying on the outskirts of the city of Bielsko-Biała - the "Gypsy Forest". Planning and development of tourist and recreational infrastructure aimed at minimizing negative impacts of excessive human pressure on the area - with particular focus on blue infrastructure (streams, pond) witihn the hills. Also, environment education activities are being planned among the many visitors/users of this area. 

Award: an educational booth with educational boards on trees and amphibians was created and installed in the "Gypsy Forest" area. Also, a nature video movie was created, showcasing the natural values of Bielsko-Biała area, with focus on the local amphibian species and their protection. 

2. ŁAPANÓW (Łapanów Commune, Local Action Group "Raba River Valley" / "Dolina Raby")

Case study: Enhancing green infrastructure in commune spatial planning and decision making. The case study involves an inventory of the commune's natural assets that will be performed and formulated within a special eco-physiographic assessment - a formal document thanks to which local biodiversity and landscape values can be officially, more effectively considered while defining local development and investment plans within the commune's spatial planning procedures and included in local spatial planning documents. On-going monitoring of green and blue infrastructure (particular focus on field margins, in-field vegetation and water resources) for the purpose of easier troubleshooting and implementation of remedial measures within the long-term policy will also take place. These are to be complemented by a range of educational and awareness rasing activities among the local community, related to proper spatial planning and management in the Carpathian, and to the Carpathian Convention.

Award: an expert analysis of the commune's green infrastructure and other physiographic characteristics was prepared, to be used in the context of sustainable spatial planning.

3. OCHOTNICA DOLNA (Ochotnica Dolna Commune, "Friends of the Dunajec River Valley" / "Przyjaciele Doliny Dunajca" Association)

Case study: blue infrastructure in Ochotnica Dolna commune - a network of streams in the Ochotnica Valley and downstream, in Dunajec river. Establishment of 5-6 nature education areas (in sites with different natural features: riverside forests, wet meadow, rocky riverbeds used as spawning grounds for salmon, etc.) that will ultimately be considered for inclusion into a network of local nature protection sites. An education trail is being planned, as well as a publication with hydrological and hydrobiological inventory results and guidelines for blue infrastructure conservation. Finally, water quality monitoring is to be performed. 

Award: the Team was equipped with instruments and materials for water quality analyses: a spectrophotometer and pH-meter.

4. WISŁOKA (Association of Communes of Wisłoka River Catchment)

Case study: Blue and green infrastructure for environmental education and water retention. A comprehensive programme on blue infrastructure conservation and development in the Wisłoka river catchment, with particular focus on a river oxbow. The case study involves an expert analysis and nature inventory in the oxbow area, installation of a waterlock, installation of an observation deck for env. eduation purposes, as well as overall cleanup of the site and planting suitable vegetation. Extensive range of partners and large scale of involvement of local stakeholders and target groups are a strenght of this case study - as well as a multi-contextual concept of educational activities, focusing on the role of blue infrastructure in biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, water management/retention, recreation and education.

Award: an expert inventory of biodiversity to be found in the Wisłoka oxbow area was prepared, along with recommendations for proper ecosystem restoration and maintenance.

5. ŻYWIECKI RAJ (Łodygowice Commune, Local Action Group "Żywiec Paradise" / "Żywiecki Raj")

Case study: "Green tourism" - creating a comprehensive tourist product based on natural, landscape, and cultural values of the Little Beskid - particularly its shepherding traditions. Includes marking a network of educational and nature paths with accompanying small infrastructure (resting and vista points, etc.). Creating an educational/demonstration apiary and farmstead, local nature education centre, etc. Restoration of a group of traditional stone shepherd cabins as a means to preserve and promote the traditional cultural landscape and remnants of traditional, extensive land use favouring biodiversity is being planned, as much a a wide range of other activities (competitions, meetings, quests, camps, mowing and grazing of selected mountain meadows, nature inventory, etc.) in collaboration with a vast array of local stakeholders. 

Award: a video movie and a printed publication (monography) on the natural and cultural heritage of the Little Beskid area and its unique natural, landscape, cultural and historic values - in particular associated with traditional land use - were created. 


The above five Competition Teams were awarded with co-financing of a selected element of their winning case studies (listed above). Also, they will host UNEP/GRID-Warsaw team - with educational hands-on activities (information and recreation booths) organized at specified local events in the summer of 2021 (contingent upon COVID-19 situation). They will be also promoted as best practices in a project publication (Guidebook on the formation of green infrastructure in the Carpathians) to be released in 2021.

Additionally, case studies developed by the runners-up (remaining four Competition Teams) will also be promoted as best practices:

 1. SUCHA BESKIDZKA (District Government Office in Sucha Beskidzka, Zawoja Commune, Local Action Group "Podbabiogórze")

Case study: Improving tourist accessibility to - and promotion of - the Natura 2000 site "Polica". The site protects a forested ridge adjacent to the Babia Góra National Park, which - together with the valley open areas (meadows, rows and groups of trees and bushes, field margins, etc.) and the streams flowing down the ridge (incl. a waterfall) make for nature values in the Babia Góra NP surroundings. Tourist trail renovation, inslallation of small tourism infrastructure (resting points with benches preventing straying from the trail) and information materials are being planned for the promotion of the natural values of the area and sustainable tourist traffic management.

2. GOLESZÓW (Goleszów Commune, Local Action Group "Cieszyn Land" / "Cieszyńska Kraina", Association for Polish-Moroccan Cooperation, Goleszów Primary School)

Case study: promoting the theme of green infrastructure and rich natural and landscape values on the territory of Goleszów commune. Development of tourist, educational, and nature trails in the commune is being planned with associated tourist and information infrastructre - and a special published guidebook shall complement the trails. 

3. UŚCIE GORLICKIE (Uście Gorlickie Commune, Local Action Group "Beskid Gorlicki", "Hutsul" / "Hucuł" Association, "Civitas Nostra" Association")

Case study: green infrastructure and biodiversity protection in the local park located within Wysowa Zdrój health spa complex in Lower Beskid (covered by a bird Natura 2000 site). Besides new trees and bushes planted in the park, focus would be on proper management of a wetland area located within the park: creating a pond with characteristic aquatic vegetation. 

4. JELEŚNIA (Jeleśnia Commune, Local Action Group "Żywiec Paradise" / "Żywiecki Raj")

Case study: promoting the role of green and blue infrastructure in management of rainwater. Development and promotion of "rain gardens" among inhabitants of Jeleśnia commune. 

For further details on the above case studies / best practices, please contact the Project Team

Project LIFE16 GIE/PL/000648 has been co-financed by the European Union within the LIFE Programme
and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management
© Centrum UNEP/GRID-Warszawa 2018-2022