Conservation zones (e.g. Natura 2000) and protected areas and their buffer zones

In Poland, the main area forms of nature protection are: national parks, nature reserves, landscape parks, areas of protected landscape and Natura 2000 areas. It is particularly important from the point of view of a farmer to know the course of the boundaries of Natura 2000 areas, within which elements of nature endangered on a European scale are protected.

Documentation of the areas covered by this form of protection can be found in every local municipality or the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection. A farmer whose farm is located in a protected area should be informed about this, because – according to the law – a change in the type of land use, such as the conversion of meadows into arable land, should be notified. A list of Natura 2000 areas with maps of their extent can be found on the Natura 2000 website. Knowledge of the distribution of Natura 2000 areas is therefore important when making business plans for a farm.

Zones located in the surroundings of protected areas constitute their buffer zone. According to Article 5.paragraph.14. of the Law on Nature Protection, dated 16 April 2004, “a buffer zone is a protective zone bordering a form of nature protection and designated individually for a form of nature protection in order to protect it from external threats resulting from human activity.”

Management in the protected area and its buffer zone should be subordinate to nature conservation. Protection task plans are drawn up for protected areas, which mainly concern the protection of nature, cultural resources and landscape, as well as a number of links to the sphere of spatial management of used land both within the protected area and in its buffer zone. For this reason, any change in the use of land lying within a protected area, such as a national park, landscape park, protected landscape areas and Natura 2000 sites, must be notified and approved in the local spatial development plan. Failure to comply with this obligation is treated as environmental damage. The Nature Conservation Act also contains elements of the National Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity, in which it regulates the problem of invasive alien species introduced into the buffer zone. A list of plant, animal and fungi species of alien species which, if released into the natural environment, may threaten native species or natural habitats can be found in the Regulation of the Minister of the Environment of 9 September 2011. (Journal of Laws No. 210, item 1260).