Wild hub on a green crossroads

Solvin Zankl / Rewilding Europe

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Solvin Zankl / Rewilding Europe

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Solvin Zankl / Rewilding Europe

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Wild hub on a green crossroads

Solvin Zankl / Rewilding Europe

Wild hub on a green crossroads

The Oder Delta, spreading between the border of Poland and Germany, is a unique region with a rich mosaic of terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Its strategic location on one of the ecological crossroads in Europe makes it one of the most exciting wild areas in north-central Europe. The vast natural areas are mainly taken care of by nature itself and wildlife has begun to thrive in more natural densities. The region stretches over more than 250,000 hectares, of which nearly 70,000 hectares are the open waters of the lagoon.

The Oder Delta is an important stop-over site for migrating water birds using the East Atlantic Flyway. Rewetting of wet pastures in Germany and the abandonment of peat-cutting in Poland has allowed a dramatic comeback of wildlife, most spectacularly for white-tailed eagles that now have the highest breeding density in Europe as well as common crane, otter, beaver, salmon, sea-trout and many other species. 

Not far from Berlin and the Baltic coast resorts, this wild landscape can create new sources of income and pride for the local people. Sustainable development combined with rewilding activities can secure these wild treasures of the Oder Delta so that they can serve as new economic opportunities for local people.


Rewilding vision

For each rewilding landscape we developed an inspiring vision that shows our ambition for the next ten years. Together with our local partners we work to make this vision a reality.

What are we doing here?

Restoring freshwater and coastal ecosystems

The team is working to restore and better connect a variety of ecosystems in and around the Stettin Lagoon, particularly in the cross-border Ueckermünder Heath area and along the Ina and Gowienica rivers. In collaboration with local partners, sections of these rivers and their banks are being restored, floodplains reconnected, and obstacles removed to enhance fish migration. The overall goal is to restore natural water flow, enhance biodiversity, and boost the overall health and resilience of the natural landscape. Coastal areas on islands in Western Pomerania are also being restored to help shorebirds breed.

In collaboration with local partner TPRIiG, spawning gravels are being restored on the Ina. This, together with anti-poaching measures, should enable the return of migratory fish such as salmon and sea trout.

Peatlands are being mapped and restored in the Ueckermünder Heath and Trzebiez area, while preparations are being made to purchase and restore a section of the Uecker River. Pilot restoration sites have also been identified on other creeks and rivers.

 

Supporting wildlife comeback

Grey seals have returned in numbers to the small Baltic islands of Ruden and Greifswalder Oie and nearby Pomeranian Bay, while Eurasian lynx have been repeatedly observed on the Polish side of the delta. The Rewilding Oder Delta team is supporting the monitoring and comeback of these iconic species and conducting related community outreach efforts.

Polish elk are also recolonising the Oder Delta in growing numbers and are now expanding their range across the Oder. The team is supporting the return of the elk to Germany by readying local communities along the Polish-German border for the presence of one of Europe’s largest herbivores. The population of European bison, another large herbivore, is also growing east of the delta, supported by Rewilding Oder Delta and local partners. The team are working with experts from Polish NGO Zachodniopomorskie Towarzystwo Przyrodnicze (ZTP) to prepare the ground for a possible future westbound expansion.

Having been involved in the GrazeLIFE initiative, the Rewilding Oder Delta team is also exploring ways to increase natural grazing in the Oder Delta – this can enhance biodiversity and deliver a wide range of other benefits.

Supporting nature-based economies

With the Oder Delta establishing a reputation as a top wildlife watching destination, the local team is working hard to develop nature-based tourism. An evolving network of local nature guides and nature-based enterprises is creating jobs and enhancing the visitor experience, complemented by the development of wildlife watching hides and lodging. This will allow local landowners, entrepreneurs and residents to benefit from rewilding efforts and wildlife comeback. Various Oder Delta-based experiences will soon be offered through Rewilding Europe Travel.

Rewilding Oder Delta partner DUH is participating in the Wildlife Economies (WLE) initiative, which is working to build support for nature-based economies – including those in the Oder Delta – through improved policy.

Scaling up rewilding

How can rewilding enhance nature and the benefits it provides, as well as generate stakeholder support? By answering these questions, the three-year REWILD_DE study – which is focused on the Oder Delta – could lead to the scaling up of rewilding across Germany. The Rewilding Oder Delta team are participating, together with the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) / Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU), and the Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNEE).

“Oder Delta is a wild jigsaw of habitats”

Suleika Suntken

Suleika Suntken
Enterprise Officer at Rewilding Oder Delta

How would you characterise your rewilding landscape?

The Oder Delta is a wild and complex jigsaw of habitats that includes naturally flowing rivers, heathlands, deltas, marshes, vast reed beds, alluvial and riparian forests, wild grasslands, bogs, coastal dunes, sand beaches and the open sea. Here you can find animals such as beaver, bison, wolf, elk, grey seal and sturgeon. Together with the white-tailed eagle – which has its top European breeding hotspot here in the delta – these are our so-called “Big Seven”. The delta is very important for bird migration as part of the East Atlantic Flyway.

What have the major achievements been in your rewilding landscape to date?

After several years of working within a collaborative network of NGOs and some very engaged tourism organisations, the independent Rewilding Oder Delta association was formed in 2019. In March 2021, we were thrilled to receive a really prestigious award from the German Postcode Lottery, which was fantastic recognition of our work. Land owners and users are becoming interested in our initiative too, with cooperation strengthening. Nature tourism in the delta is developing and we’re working hard to support small and medium-sized nature-based enterprises.

What would you like to see achieved in your rewilding landscape in the next five years?

I hope to see a strong network of partners working together to realise our overall vision. I hope that nature-based tourism, involving a wide range of local guides and nature tourism operators, attracts an increasing number of visitors – this will encourage landowners to support further wildlife comeback and enable more and more local people to make a living from wild nature. And I hope that local stakeholders will feel a new and growing sense of pride in their rich and exciting natural heritage.

Our main achievements

Visit the Oder Delta

The Oder Delta is a unique region rich with a large mosaic of land, marine and freshwater ecosystems which spreads across the border between Poland and Germany. Located on the edge of the Baltic Sea this ecological crossroad in Europe is one of the most exciting wild areas in north-central Europe.

Learn more

Staffan Widstrand / Rewilding Europe

Image gallery

Team members

Ulrich Stöcker

Team leader Oder Delta (Germany)

Peter Torkler

Team leader Oder Delta (Poland)

Katrin Schikorr

Team Coordinator & Communication

Frank Götz-Schlingmann

Network Coordinator

Jonathan Rauhut

Rewilding Officer

Izabela Skawinska-Luther

Communication Officer

Suleika Suntken

Enterprise Manager

Brit Carlotta Köhler

Rewilding Officer (maternity leave)

Eliza Grabowska

Wetlands Rewilding Officer

Hanna Lietz

Junior Rewilding Officer

Joshua Koch

Junior Rewilding Officer

Wiebke Brenner

Rewilding Officer

Katrin Quiring

Marine Rewilding Officer

Nancy Wolf

Rivers Rewilding Officer

Board members

Stefan Schwill

Artur Furdyna

Frauke Bennett

Partners


There are three main partners that we work with in this rewilding landscape: Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) in Germany, HOP Transnationales Netzwerk Odermündung e.V. (Germany & Poland) and Society of Friends of the Rivers Ina and Gowienica (Poland).

The work is now coordinated by a new entity that was set up in 2019Rewilding Oder Delta

A whole range of local partnerships has been established by the three main partners.

Contact

Website: rewilding-oder-delta.com

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