Alluvial meadows in Warsaw restoration project seeds sowing River of flowers

About the project – goals and actions.

Vistula river meadow restoration project is carried out on the area of nearly 70ha on both banks of  the river. Among many the main aim is suppressing alien, invasive plant species and increasing the biodiversity on the areas protected under Nature 2000 European directive. The project is also an answer to need of improving flood effects mitigation program in the Polish capitol.

Floodplain meadows has been present in Warsaw’s landscape for many centuries as a result of pastures greasing or mowing. For many reasons this activates has stopped and well-kept, species rich meadows are subjected to vegetation succession, overgrowing with invasive species of herbs, grasses and trees. Fast growing plants in many cases create large areas of monocultures negatively influencing the balance in flora and fauna. More about the management and threats of alluvial meadows can be find here.

The aim of the project “Restoration of flood-meadows in Special Protection Area Natura 2000 “Dolina Środkowej Wisły” (PLB 140004) in Warsaw the is to minimize the spread of Giant goldenrod Solidago Canadensis, Canadian goldenrod S. gigantea , Ash-leaved maple Acer negundo. This is done by restoring and enhancing the proper state of habitat in seven chosen areas along the river by increasing the number and diversity of flowering species and reducing the pressure of non-native invasive plants.

The effect of the project will be creation of mosaic landscape with tress, bushes and species rich meadows on the periodically flooded terrains.

To attain the goals we have undertaken a variety of measures described below.

koszenie łąk nad Wisłą mowing meadows riperian forest Warsaw Natura 2000
Mowing is the main activity that targets alien widespread Soligado species

The project areas are mowed as frequently as twice a year. In the future cuttings (biomass) will be removed from the area after it has been mowed. This will reduce effects of enriching the soil with nitrogen.

Goldenrod has every characteristics that allows it to quickly colonize the vast areas of fields and meadows.

  • It reproduces very quickly – it produces up to 10 000 wind-disseminated seeds per stem.
  • It can also reproduce vegetatively by spreading underground rhizomes forming colonies with about 300 stems per 1m sq.
  • Canadian Goldenrad and Giant Goldenroad quickly (few months) grows to the high of 1,5m or more.

This way invasive Solidago spp. plants win the competition for water and light changing habitats and eliminating native species.

collecting wildflower meadow seeds
To support alluvial habitat on 4 of 7 project areas seeds of native species has been reintroduced.

Preparatory works included collecting a top soil with seed bank and rhizomes, deep soil cultivation. Seeds for the project where collected from floodplain meadows in other Natura 2000 areas within the same geographical region which make the project unique.

The goal of all work is to reintroduce native species of plants such as Cnidium dubium, Allium angulosum, Lathyrus palustris, Lychnis flos-cuculi and other creating among others Nature 2000 protected habitat of Cnidion dubii 6440.

Alluvial meadows Natura 2000 Vistula river
Education and engaging Warsaw citizen in the actions is an important part of the project.

During the project there has been two events promoting goals, activities and benefits of meadow restoration.

In July a walk showing one of the areas of the project has taken place on the south of Warsaw. During the walk botanist from Warsaw University and ornithologist has been talking about types of plants characteristic that are for alluvial meadows and birds species that may be present in restored areas.

The other time, in October, Warsaw activists and inhabitants has helped in restoring an alluvial meadow in a harbor. The terrain has been exposed during the ground works in the south part of harbor and become a perfect place for wildflower meadow. People, collectively have prepared the ground and sawn seeds mixed with sand for even spread. During the event a project botanist had a talk about the importans of native flora, activities and benefits of the project.

Riwer of flowers alluvial meadow restoration
Creating attractive spaces is one of the ways to draw public attention to the importance of meadows.

This is why we have created a river of flowers. Together with the seeds collected on alluvial meadows from the same region we have sown seeds of common field weeds such as poppies and cornflowers. This way we have created a spectacular view in the one of most commonly visited places on Vistula river banks.  Annuals not only are eye catching but also create a bit of shadow for biennial plants that are to come to bloom next year.