Country programme Poland

Together with BirdLife Poland the RSPB are working to tackle key nature conservation issues by protecting Important Bird Areas.

Corncrake, Crex crex at Oronsay RSPB reserve, Argyll, Scotland.


We have supported the ongoing growth of the BirdLife Partner organisation in Poland since 1996. BirdLife Poland (known locally as OTOP) is becoming a strong and sustainable organisation. Together with them the RSPB are working to tackle the key nature conservation issues in Poland by protecting Important Bird Areas, like the Bialowieza primeval forest and the area threatened by the Via Baltica.
SPB started work in Poland with our partner OTOP in 1996, when OTOP was only four years old and civil society and contemporary nature conservation were only just emerging after the breakdown of communism.  
Poland boasts magnificent natural areas like the Bialowieza Primeval Forest, the vast wild marshlands in northeast Poland and high nature value farmland across large parts of the country, which is still full of corncrakes and some of the best diversity of farmland birds. Poland also supports 25 per cent of the population of Europe’s rarest migratory songbird, the aquatic warbler, as well as at least 20 per cent of the world’s enigmatic white storks.
Species affected (not UK birds)

White stork
Greater spotted eagle


  • Build a strong and effective BirdLife Partner organisation in Poland
  • Identify and protect Important Bird Areas in Poland
  • Save globally threatened species, like the aquatic warbler, in Poland
  • Monitor the population trends of common and rare breeding birds and the bird populations in Important Bird Areas in order to spot potential threats at an early stage
  • Lobby for the protection of rare and common bird species in the wider countryside, eg by influence agriculture and forestry policies on a national level
  • Support the international policy work of BirdLife International through the work of a strong partner in Poland
  • Promote bird and nature conservation among Polish society and build support for our national partner, OTOP


  • OTOP has grown to become an effective nature conservation organisation with 30 full-time staff, managing five nature reserves
  • OTOP has approximately 500 active volunteers and 2,500 members. A campaign is now underway to reach 10,000 members
  • OTOP has identified 140 Important Bird Areas (IBAs) in Poland, covering 15 per cent of the country. Thanks to pressure by OTOP and the European Commission, 126 of these are already protected as Special Protection Areas (SPAs), while the rest are in the process of designation. OTOP has set up dedicated volunteer caretaker groups for 80 out of the 140 IBAs
  • OTOP is running campaigns to save the most important Polish natural sites from destruction. Its fight against the potentially damaging routing of the Via Baltic Motorway through several unique nature sites is making major headway, while the campaign to save the whole of the unique Bialowieza Primeval Forest as a National Park and save it from over-intensive logging is now under way
  • OTOP is running two successful monitoring programmes with the help of hundreds of volunteers: The Common Breeding Bird Monitoring involves 500 samples squares with as many volunteers, while monitoring of Important Bird Areas has begun with 100 volunteers for as many sites
  • OTOP has successfully introduced “AwiBaza”, an online database that collects amateur birdwatchers data from across the whole country
  • OTOP is running a comprehensive conservation programme for the aquatic warbler, Europe’s rarest migratory songbird. Currently it is supported by a large EU LIFE Nature grant for five years
  • As part of its EU membership, OTOP has successfully lobbied for suitable agri-environmental programmes which pay farmers for maintaining extensive farming in areas particularly important for birds – a major step towards the conservation of birds in the wider countryside
  • OTOP is running three programmes each year that engage with over 10,000 people nationally. Nationally, OTOP’s school education programme reaches about 30,000 children every year

Planned Work

Our support to OTOP is based on annual contributions to cover a proportion of OTOP’s core organisational costs in combination with technical support.


OTOP-BirdLife Poland ul. Odrowaza 24 05-270 Marki k. Warszawy, Poland
tel: +48-22 761 82 05; fax: +48-22 761 90 51;


This programme is supported from core RSPB funds


Coast on a stormy day

Dr Zbig Karpowicz

Senior Partner Development Officer, Partner development unit
Tagged with: Country: International Country: Poland Project status: Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Organisation development Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection