Located in central Europe, the Oder River is Poland’s second longest river, which runs from the Czech Republic through Poland and Germany and into the Baltic Sea. Wings of the Oder centers on Piotr and his mission to protect the Oder and surrounding wildlife habitats while inspiring people locally and around the world.
Piotr Chara spent most of his childhood in and around the Oder River and its shores. As he grew older and continued to watch, Piotr noticed a dramatic decline in the river and the local wildlife that called it home. Unintended consequences from a river widening project and the effects of climate change have played into the situation and negatively impacted the once thriving shores’ delicate ecosystem.
Various species of Wetland birds are native to this area, such as little terns and oystercatchers. The number of birds migrating to the river was decreasing in high numbers due to difficulty nesting – their habitats were compromised, which made them easy prey for local predators in the area.
Piotr researched different solutions and created an organization that builds floating nests for the birds to breed safely and comfortably.
“The plight of these birds didn’t allow me to rest. I admired their beauty, grace, and mating dances,” says Piotr Chara. “I was eventually able to recognize individual birds, to become familiar with their temperament and personal habits. I felt honored. It was all the more painful, then, to see their dramatic situation. I knew it was imperative to find the time, find a solution and resources to help them.”
Piotr’s team has installed eight artificial nests to help the at-risk birds. Now an award-winning photographer, Piotr films the birds as part of his studies and reports his findings to The Green Valley of the Oder and Warta (ZDOW) Foundation.
Since filming on this project began, Piotr and his loyal volunteers and The Green Valley of the Oder and the Warta (ZDOW) Foundation worked together to officially achieve reservation status for the Oder River. This status will protect the river from potential human threats, providing a thriving breeding ground for wildlife for years.
Wings of the Oder is a reminder of how essential our rivers are to communities and ecosystems across the globe.