Sustainable Mountain Development in Poland 

Project symbolTCP/POL/3004
Participating countries: Poland
Project duration: 01 Nov 2005 - 31 Oct 2007
Donor: FAO

The Sudety mountains dominate the southwestern part of Poland, along the border with the Czech Republic. This depopulating mountainous area faces a number of challenges. The region underwent significant social changes during the twentieth century because of international conflict and large population shifts. Since the 1990s, market reforms have led to unemployment, economic hardship and poverty. The situation has been further hampered by a lack of organization among local farmers and a lack of viable local markets for farmers’ products. The effect on people living in the Sudety mountains is demonstrated by a patchwork of abandoned land and degraded landscapes and by the outmigration of people from the region.

Photo © Thomas Hofer/ FAO

Poland observed the International Year of Mountains (IYM) 2002 and gives high priority to sustainable development of mountain regions in its recent legislation on rural development. The strategies that have been developed for the Sudety region emphasize sustainable use of natural resources and foresee using the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) price support and structural funds to rehabilitate rural areas and generate non-farming incomes. However, extensive and comprehensive capacity building and training are still required to make effective use of EU resources. In this connection, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and regional and local governments express strong interest in the FAO interdisciplinary approach to sustainable mountain development and requested FAO TCP assistance to address the urgent policy formulation problems in the Sudety mountains. Following initial formulation, the project was started in 2005 and was completed in 2007.

The project’s main objective was to assist local stakeholders (regional and local governments and farmers’ groups, NGOs, and the local offices of MARD and other public rural development agencies) in their efforts to design and implement sustainable development programmes in this mountain area. These programmes will subsequently be implemented as part of, and financed from, the EU CAP European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

Agency staff and farmers received capacity building and specific FAO expertise in elaborating and preparing implementation of CAP rural policies aimed to:

  • facilitate the elaboration of support programmes for areas with difficult farming conditions;
  • support the commercialization and diversification of small semi-subsistence farms;
  • afforest abandoned farmland;
  • build farmer-based marketing networks;
  • create jobs and rural income diversification.

Project activities were carried out at the field and national levels. The field activities took place in the pilot site, which was situated in the Klodzko valley. It is a low-favoured area, and has an unemployment rate of 28.2 percent (ten percentage points above the national average). Approximately one half of the area is agricultural land and 43 percent of the county is under State-administered forest. In recent years, the Nysa Klodzka river has flooded, resulting in severe losses in the region’s urban centres, agriculture and infrastructure. The region has approximately one quarter of the country’s known thermal water resources, at five health resorts.

The specific objective of field-level activities aimed  to demonstrate an integrated approach to sustainable mountain development, build capacity, improve the livelihoods of mountain people, protect the mountain environment and strengthen local institutional structures. All the pilot activities contribute to increasing the region’s diversity, promoting mountain products, and increasing mountain people’s income potential. An economic analysis of the comparative advantage of agricultural production in the Klodzko valley is also being conducted.

The achievements at the national-level were:

  • increasing the capacity of mountain stakeholders to develop and implement sustainable development strategies and programmes in mountain regions, through networking, outreach, advocacy and training;
  • formulating an investment programme for sustainable mountain development, which includes the development of a national strategy for mountain regions, as well as a regional (multinational) component.

last updated:  Tuesday, July 9, 2013