Education | Green infrastructure | Research

Urban river valleys ecosystems

In February 2022, we started the project Urban river valleys ecosystems. The potential of ecosystem services in anthropogenic climate change mitigation. In collaboration with Phronesis SA in Oslo, we will raise awareness of the river valley ecosystems’ value for life quality and climate change mitigation in cities.

Project goals

  • raising awareness of the ecosystem services provided by urban rivers and valleys;
  • increasing the knowledge and skills of local decision-makers, city officials, local government employees and planners to support the sustainable management of river valley ecosystems;
  • improving knowledge and skills of educators and people conducting educational and communication campaigns in urban nature conservation.

Within the framework of the project, we will develop a series of educational activities aimed at professionals, representatives of local governments, NGOs and city dwellers.

Expert workshops (April-May 2022)

We start the project with two expert workshops. We will build knowledge about the challenges of managing river valleys to support the optimal use of their ecosystem services. We will compile best practice examples focused on protecting or restoring ecosystem services in river valleys. The results of the meetings will serve as a starting point for implementing further activities in the project: the training program, the publication, the final conference and the communication activities.

Experts will attend the meetings, including representatives of science, municipalities, counties, NGOs, and other public and private institutions involved in river valley management.

Two expert meetings will take place in the form of a workshop, with 15 participants each:

  • The first workshop will deal with the formal conditions of river basin management resulting from legal regulations, ownership and different spatial functions;
  • The second workshop is dedicated to best practices and will present the Norwegian examples developed by the project partner Phronesis SA.

River valleys perception survey (July-September 2022)

The study aims to determine how urban dwellers perceive the area of urban river valleys and how they use them. We will use for this purpose a dedicated geo-questionnaire. Participation in the survey for the respondents (about 1,000 inhabitants) will be educational. We will use the study’s results in implementing the training program, the publication and the final conference. We will also include them in the communication plan.

Training program on Urban river valley ecosystems (1st half 2023)

The two-stage program will use the knowledge gained from expert meetings and the perception survey results. First, we address it to the decision-makers and specialists.

The program will include an e-learning course in which all interested persons will participate. It will also have specialist training for the best graduates of the e-learning stage.

First stage: e-learning course

We will conduct the 1,5-month online training course on the Sendzimir Foundation’s e-learning platform. The course will include webinars led by experts, a.o. from Phronesis SA.

The training will consist of 3 parts:

  • mapping and assessment of urban river valleys ecosystems value;
  • best practices for sustainable management in river valleys;
  • conducting education and information campaigns for river valleys’ protection.

Second stage: Three training courses

Selected graduates of the online training course will participate in one of three training workshops. Fifteen participants will take part in each event. We will cooperate closely with the selected cities to enable the participants to work on real-life problems. Furthermore, the solutions developed during the courses will be available for the host city to allow their implementation in the future.

Workshop on River valley ecosystems management (3 days, September 2023)

The training for local decision-makers and specialists in mapping and assessing the values of urban river valleys ecosystems, planning, management and river valleys protection. Participants will develop recommendations for local case studies.

Implementation of education and information campaigns on river valley ecosystems workshop (2 days, May 2023)

Specialists conducting educational and information activities for urban dwellers from NGOs and local government institutions will participate in the workshop. They will develop concepts for actions arising awareness of urban river valleys’ protection, importance and limitation of their exploitation.

Nature-based solutions design workshop (5 days, May 2023)

The workshop for specialists: planners and designers. Participation will enable them to develop their competencies in designing NBS for a sustainable water catchment area. In addition, the participants will develop several nature-based solution concepts dedicated to a specific river valley section. The author’s training program was a part of the Climate NBS project.

The study visit in Norway (2 days, September 2023)

Twelve participants of workshops and representatives of Polish cities engaged in the project will participate in a study visit in Norway prepared by the project partner Phronesis SA.

They will learn best practices for restoring river valley ecosystem services in urban areas. They also will learn about local strategies and plans for river valley management. The project partner will present case studies prepared in advance. As a result, representatives from Poland will be able to see examples of best practices in the field.

The visit will allow the participants to establish contacts with representatives of Norwegian institutions.

Publication “Urban river valleys” (October 2023)

We will elaborate on a guidebook in the series Sustainable development – Applications, developed for years by the Sendzimir Foundation.

In the guidebook, you will find the knowledge gained during the project implementation. We will present inspiring examples of good practices implemented to protect urban river valleys, increase the efficiency of their services, and communicate these issues effectively. Examples will come from Poland and the world. In addition, project partner Phronesis SA will present case studies from Norway. Finally, we will focus on sustainable river valleys management challenges and propose legal and organizational solutions for better river valleys’ resource management.

The guidebook will be practice-oriented. The scientific editors, Jakub Kronenberg, PhD, professor at the University of Lodz, and Tomasz Bergier, PhD, professor at the University of Science and Technology in Krakow, will ensure a high level of content. The publication will be reviewed.

1200 copies of the publication will be accessible to stakeholders, specialists, and libraries.

The electronic version will be downloadable for free from our website.

We invite you to read publications in the series Sustainable development – Applications. They are free of charge, electronically in Polish and English (numbers 1-5).

Final conference (2 days, October 2023)

During the conference, we will summarize the results of the activities carried out under the project and share knowledge with the participants.

An expert from the project partner, Phronesis SA, will participate in the conference as a keynote speaker and lead the workshop.

Participation in the conference will be free of charge. We will invite around 100 participants: decision-makers from Polish cities, local government representatives and NGOs.


We will develop the website, created within the framework of the project Ecosystem services for sustainable urban development and expanded in subsequent projects. You will find numerous articles where we will share knowledge and best practices.

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The project “Urban River Valleys Ecosystems. The potential of ecosystem services in anthropogenic climate change mitigation” benefits from a € 164 599,08 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through EEA funding under the Environment, Energy and Climate Change Program; program area: Environment and ecosystems.

It will run from February 2022 to December 2023.

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