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 area 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?

Enterprise networks supporting rewilding

The Oder Delta is building a reputation for rewilding and as a prominent nature tourism destination. Rewilding Europe and local partners have started work on several pilot business projects here, based on the exploration of nature-based economic opportunities. A developing network of local wilderness guides, wildlife watching tours and hides, lodging and other nature-based enterprises is creating jobs and burgeoning support for rewilding. The eventual aim is to develop an alternative, sustainable and competitive model of land and sea use for local landowners, entrepreneurs and residents.

Within the project Wildlife Economies (WLE) we work with 8 other parties on enabling nature-based enterprises in 4 European regions, including Oder Delta.

Efforts in tourism promotion, education and communication are also creating positive attitudes for a wilder delta and a wilder Europe. Growth in the local wildlife watching business is increasingly benefitting delta communities, with the first tourism packages offered from local outfitters via the European Safari Company.

Supporting wildlife comeback

A completed project funded by the Krombacher Brewary saw DUH identify and protect suitable feeding habitats for the lesser spotted eagle in the delta’s Ueckermünde Heath area. In Germany this beautiful raptor is one of the rarest breeding bird species, with only about 100 breeding pairs left in the northeastern part of the country, most of them in the Oder Delta rewilding area and its surroundings. Nest protection shields were also installed to protect eagle nests against predation in order to boost breeding success.

With funding from the German Postcode Lottery, the Rewilding Oder Delta team have started work on the return of elk (known in North America as moose) to Germany. Polish elk have done well in the Oder Delta area in recent decades and are now starting to expand their range across the Oder River. Working with local communities along the Polish border, the team are helping people to get ready for elk – adapting to the presence of one of Europe’s big herbivores. 

The team are also working with partners from across Europe to look at how natural grazing can fit into existing agricultural systems GrazeLIFE seeks to improve European policy so that wild animals, particualry the big herbivores can once again play their role as keystone species in Europe’s wild areas.  

Restoring fish populations

Many streams and smaller rivers on the northeastern Baltic Sea coast of Germany are currently in very poor condition. The reintroduction of species (such as salmon, sturgeon and sea trout) here means that aquatic habitats urgently need to be improved.

The Rewilding Oder Delta team is now working to restore fish populations and fish migration in the Szczecin Lagoon and associated rivers, in collaboration with local communities and the State Office for Agriculture and the Environment in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Activities, which focus on rivers in the Vorpommern-Greifswald district, include the rewilding of river banks, the restoration of natural hydrodynamics, the removal of obstacles to support fish migration, and the re-wetting of areas adjacent to waterways.

Likewise, on the Polish side, Rewilding Oder Delta partner – TPRIIG – is rebuilding spawning gravels and reducing poaching to enable the return of migratory fish such as salmon and trout. 

“Oder Delta is a wild jigsaw of habitats”

Suleika Suntken

Suleika Suntken
Team coordinator of Oder Delta

How would you characterise your rewilding area?
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 the beaver, bison, wolf and elk. The delta is part of the East Atlantic Flyway and the number one hotspot for breeding white-tailed eagles in Europe.

What have the major achievements been in your rewilding area to date?
A collaborative network of NGOs and some very engaged tourism organisations has been formed. Land owners are becoming interested in our initiative too – the first models of cooperation have been developed. Nature and wilderness tourism is still in its infancy, but we’re working hard to make it happen.

What would you like to see achieved in your rewilding area in the next five years?
I hope to see a strong network of partners mutually leading the way forward in support of our overall vision. I hope that nature-based tourism, involving a strong network of local guides, attracts an increasing number of visitors, encouraging landowners to allow wildlife comeback and enabling local people to make a living from wilderness tourism. And I hope that local stakeholders will enjoy a new sense of pride in their rich and exciting natural heritage.

Our main achievements

Visit the area

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 Tokler  

Team Leader Oder Delta (Poland) 

Suleika Suntken

Team coordinator (temporarily on maternity leave)

Katrin Schikorr

Team coordinator (replacing temporarily Suleika Suntken)

Artur Furdyna

Rewilding officer

Stefan Schwill

Rewilding officer

Board members

  • Stefan Schwill
  • Suleika Suntken
  • Artur Furdyna

Partners


There are three main partners that we work with in this rewilding area: 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 2019 – Rewilding Oder Delta. 

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

Contact

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