Education | Green infrastructure | Participation

Between drought and flood – blue and green infrastructure in the Leśna Municipality

In partnership with the Leśna Commune and the consulting company COWI from Norway, in December 2021, we launched a two-year project to develop and implement nature-based solutions that will help to cope with the problem of drought and flooding.

Project goals

Leśna Commune, located upon the Kwisa River in the Izerskie Foothills, is regularly affected by floods and droughts. Along with the changing climate, these phenomena will intensify. That is why it is essential to plan effective adaptation measures and increase the awareness of the region’s inhabitants on how to deal with these challenges.

Geo-questionnaire survey and workshops for the inhabitants of the Leśna Commune

We will precede the project’s educational activities by researching the region’s inhabitants’ perception and level of knowledge about the challenges related to climate change in their area and the possibilities of counteracting their effects. We will use for this purpose a dedicated geo-questionnaire.

In the second step, we will conduct workshops using the VISIS Pyramid tool for stakeholders representing various social groups and institutions from the Leśna Commune. This meeting will define the most critical challenges and main directions of actions that should be taken in the commune to adapt to climate change.

We will use the crowd-mapping research and workshops’ outcome to tailor educational activities to the local community’s needs.

Project inaugural seminar

We will officially launch the project among stakeholders from the Jizera Foothills region in spring 2022. During a 2-day specialist seminar with representatives of the project partner from Norway (COWI), we will talk about the relationship between the challenges of climate change on mountain areas and landscaping. There will be plenty of good practices from Poland, Iceland, and Norway.

The seminar will raise the participants’ knowledge of practical solutions to increase landscape retention.

In the following days, the project partners will analyze the concept of the blue-green infrastructure system planned for implementation in Leśna.

The blue and green infrastructure in the Leśna Commune

By June 2023, we will create a comprehensive, innovative blue and green infrastructure complex in Leśna. It will mitigate the main challenges of climate change: droughts and floods due to torrential rainfall.

Green walls and roofs, flower meadows, tree plantings, rain gardens, infiltration basins, ditches, unsealing of impervious surfaces, and restoration of the surroundings of the Bruśnik stream will allow water to be retained at the site of rainfall, preventing local flooding.

Solar lighting, benches, a natural playground, stands and a repair station for bicycles, compost bins, and a hammock zone will make the area more attractive and promote a climate-friendly lifestyle.

The implementation of most of the facilities will be held in the form of workshops, which will allow residents of the commune to learn how to increase water retention at the site of precipitation in practice.

Jizera Adaptation Center and educational trail

Residents, tourists, and other users of the area will have the opportunity to learn about the adaptive solutions created thanks to the accompanying educational path. The path will cover ten stations. We will devote them to the challenges related to climate change faced by Leśna and other municipalities in the region. We will also present nature-based solutions (NBS) that will be developed in the commune during the project.

The developed NBS system will be part of the Jizera Center for Adaptation to Climate Change (ICA) inaugurated in the project. Together with the educational trail, they will constitute a new, important point on the map of the region. Furthermore, the Izera Center for Adaptation aims to present demonstrative solutions that will be possible for visitors to multiply by themselves thanks to the prepared educational materials.

Educational activities for residents

Apart from the infrastructure investments, we will conduct many educational events and run an extensive information campaign in the region.  The main goal of those activities is to raise the awareness of all stakeholders about the relationship between land development and the occurrence of drought and floods and equip them with knowledge about the adaptation and mitigation of climate change in mountain areas. All the activities will focus on the Jizera Center for Adaptation to Climate Change.

As part of the project, we provide:

  • 3-day training for local educators (September 2022) who will be involved in conducting workshops at ICA for residents and will ensure the continuation of educational activities after the end of the project,
  • two educational picnics:
    • “Between drought and flood” on adaptation and mitigation of climate change, the aim of which is to make the assumptions of the project closer to residents and tourists (June 2022)
    • picnic inaugurating the Jizera Climate Adaptation Center and educational trail (June 2023),
  • Ten practical workshops to create blue-green infrastructure (autumn 2022 and spring 2023) – involving the local community in co-planned solutions to implement them in their environment successfully,
  • Ten practical workshops at the Jizera Center for Adaptation to Climate Change (June-October 2023) – workshops will be conducted by local educators trained in the project and experts. They will show residents how they can practically implement various environmental activities and increase landscape retention.

Summarizing conference and specialist workshops

At the end of 2023 will be held a conference with the participation of representatives of the Norwegian partner COWI. The event will bring together the authorities of the neighboring municipalities and representatives of institutions working for sustainable water management in the region. Furthermore, it will make it possible to popularize the project’s results and encourage participants to implement similar solutions in their areas to jointly strengthen the resistance of the Jizera Mountains region to the effects of climate change. During the field visit, we will present the objects created as part of the project, and we will discuss the formal conditions for this type of investment and possible sources of financing.

A key barrier to the implementation of NBS is the lack of specialists with knowledge and experience in space planning in implementing nature-based solutions. Therefore, after the conference, experts from the Sendzimir Foundation and the COWI design office will conduct specialist workshops in blue-green infrastructure design. Landscape architects, urban planners, and drainage and retention devices engineers will participate in the 4-day course. Thanks to this, 15 trained specialists from the region will increase the chances of implementing further investments in this area.

Knowledge base

We will create a set of educational materials for other activities and campaigns. It will be made available for further dissemination in the region:

  • publication, which will be a catalog of recommended adaptation and mitigation solutions with the use of NBS in urban and rural areas,
  • series of 4 short films on the challenges related to climate change in the region and model NBS in urban and rural areas,
  • an interactive map of places conducive to retention in Leśna and the surrounding area,
  • website zielonalesna.pl, which will include all the materials.

Project partners: Leśna Municipality  and COWI AS from Norway.

The project “Between drought and flooding. Blue and green infrastructure in Lesna” is financed by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway from the EEA funding under the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Program; program area: Climate. The project aims to increase the resilience of the Leśna Municipality to climate change, especially droughts and floods, through the implementation of nature-based solutions, including a demonstration educational base and a regional information campaign.

Project duration: from December 1, 2021 to November 30, 2023.

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