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Polish Red Cattle Restoration and Biodiversity Conservation

Elzbieta Martyniuk,[13] Maria Jaszczynska[14] and Marzenna Kierus[15]

This project constitutes the AnGR component of the project proposal submitted to the Global Environment Facility by the North Podlasie Bird Protection Society on "Conservation and Management of the Upper Narew Valley". The Upper Narew Valley is one of the best-preserved riparian valleys in Poland and was formed by regular flooding of a river. The valley is recognized as a habitat with unique biodiversity value. The valley is currently exposed to severe threats, resulting from inappropriate water management and decreasing water quality, insufficient integration of biodiversity conservation into development plans and, most of all, the disappearance of meadow habitats of high biodiversity value because of the withdrawal of agricultural activities.

The objective of the project is the re-establishment of a lowland population of Polish Red cattle, an indigenous breed, in its historic breeding region under traditional environmental conditions. Reintroduction of extensive cattle breeding in the Upper Narew Valley will contribute to the protection of rare and endangered bird species that are associated with grassland habitats. Until now, the most important grazing areas, based on their high value to wildlife, have been selected; the local farmers have been interviewed to identify project and conservation programme participants. The inventory of cattle resembling the Polish Red breed has been completed in the field and an organizational structure established. Now, artificial insemination (AI) with selected pure-bred Polish Red bulls is under way to multiply desirable genetic material. During the next four years it is planned to establish at least seven conservation herds of pure-bred Polish Reds and a beef cattle herd based on cross-bred animals. All these will be included in controlled grazing. The project was initiated to support rural development in the poor, economically underdeveloped region and improve the livelihoods of the local community. At the same time, the project aims to contribute to biodiversity conservation and the restoration of a Polish indigenous cattle breed.

[13] National Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources, National Animal Breeding Centre, ul Sokolowska 3, 01-142 Warszawa.
[14] National Focal Point for Animal Genetic Resources, National Animal Breeding Centre, ul Sokolowska 3, 01-142 Warszawa.
[15] The North Podlasie Bird Protection Society (PTOP), Bialystok, Poland

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