Revitalization of Vistula River oxbows

Project completed

The project aims at regenerating and protecting of 15 oxbows where intervention is most needed, thus making an important contribution to the conservation of the most valuable habitats in the Upper Vistula River valley. At the same time, it will lead to enhanced knowledge and awareness of the natural value and importance of oxbows among local communities, local public authorities as well as tourists, which will contribute to preserve existing oxbows in the long term.

Environment and Infrastructure

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Protecting the environment
01.04.2012 - 31.12.2016
CHF  923’500

Note: the texts under all the headings, with the exception of 'Results achieved', describe the situation before the start of the project.


Under natural conditions, oxbows are part of a dynamic process, with old oxbows being slowly overgrown and new oxbows being created. However, as a consequence of river flow regulation and flood protection measures in the past, this natural process is no longer possible and no new oxbows are created any more. Many of the existing oxbows of the Vistula River suffer from deteriorating conditions. Regulations carried out in the 20th century made the Upper Vistula River Valley losing its natural character. The river bed was straightened out, meanders were crossed by levees.
Undeniably, the lack of public awareness of nature values and importance of oxbows (for some of the Vistula communes they are the last "oases of biodiversity") contributes to their destruction. Only in the last two years in Oświęcim district three oxbows were destroyed (dumped/buried), including one with habitat of water chestnut Trapa natans (endangered species in Poland). In order to maintain their important role in the functioning of the local eco-systems, numerous oxbows need to be revitalized.


The goals of the project are to maintain and increase biodiversity of the Vistula oxbows, promote popularization of oxbows natural values by increasing the interests in the Vistula River valley as a recreation place and at the same time increasing the awareness of the necessity of its protection.

Target groups

Local communities, local public authorities, education institutions as well as tourists


The project will finance revitalization of 15 oxbows and some water engineering related measures, such as deepening of the reservoir, mud removal and renovation of the water sluice, reconstruction of the culverts, tree planting and remove of litter. The project will finance also a detailed nature inventory in the Vistula River valley and awareness building activities directed at local inhabitants and the general public.


Achieved results:  

  • 80.5 ha where on-the-ground protection and/or restoration measures have been completed 16 oxbows revitalised
  • High-quality data for ecosystems and biodiversity monitoring available for 29.6 ha
  • High-quality inventory data  on ecosystems and biodiversity available for 742.4 ha
  • 125 m3 waste removed from oxbows and 3 water swamp species displaced/reintroduced
  • 1 field inventory conducted
  • 36 domestic study tours with 260 participants; 155 lectures with more than 1800 participants, 20 workshops with 752 participants and 3 conferences contributed to raising the awareness of target groups
  • 15 educational paths with a total length of 92 km


Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Swiss Contribution to the enlarged EU
Project partners Contract partner
Foreign state institution
  • National State Institute North

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    923’500 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    922’428
Project phases

Phase 1 01.04.2012 - 31.12.2016   (Completed)