Białowieża National Park leased over 100 ha of meadows for bison from farmers

The national park has signed contracts for the lease of 125 ha of private meadows for the needs of the bison living in the Białowieża Forest. Plot owners will receive an average of approximately 2500 PLN per hectare, provided that they will collect and leave hay there with a view to feeding these animals in the winter.

In the Białowieża Primeval Forest, there is the largest Polish population of bison living in the wild. During the inventory carried out last winter, 715 individuals were counted there, including 70 young born in 2020.

When there is a shortage of food in the forest, some of the bison also go to fields and meadows, where they cause damage to crops outside the forest. In order to minimize these damages, a contracting project with farmers for bison is carried out; usually it is about 100 ha of meadows. It is carried out under the program “Comprehensive protection of the European bison in Poland”, co-financed from EU funds.

How much for the lease of 1 ha of meadows under the comprehensive protection of bison?
The national park may spend about 340,000 for this purpose this year. PLN; The proposed price for the lease of 1 ha of meadows (including land preparation, harvesting and placing loose hay) is on average approx. PLN (the final amount depends on the amount of prepared hay).

Properties must be no smaller than half a hectare and located in places where bison live, but also at least half a kilometer from farmland and human settlements, there must be free access to this area from all sides, i.e. they must not be fenced.

According to Dr. Katarzyna Daleszczyk from the bison breeding center of the Białowieża National Park, after the verification of the applications (especially whether the area would actually be used by the bison, several farmers gave up, because the lease excludes the so-called environmental subsidies), 49 contracts were signed with the owners of the meadows and pastures, covering over 125 ha of land.

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