HomeNewsLandscape, EIA and decision-making. A case study of the Vistula Spit Canal, Poland

Landscape, EIA and decision-making. A case study of the Vistula Spit Canal, Poland

Although landscapes are often considered public goods, they frequently receive inadequate attention in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs), particularly in Poland. This neglect often leads to visible degradation during investment processes. This article examines the case of the Vistula Spit Canal, currently the largest engineering project under construction in Poland.

We analysed whether the conclusions drawn in the EIA report, particularly those concerning landscape changes, influenced the decision to proceed with the construction. Although the EIA report described potential landscape changes as both significant and irreversible, the authorities nonetheless approved the project, citing moderate environmental impacts in other areas. This case underscores the tendency to overlook landscape considerations when greenlighting large-scale investments.



1. Introduction


Landscape is a public good with social, cultural, ecological, and environmental significance. It is of key importance to the emergence of local cultures, and contributes to human well-being (Mészáros and Antonson Citation2020). The European Landscape Convention (ELC) ([CE] Council of Europe Citation2000) mandates that signatory European states integrate landscape-related considerations into their policies and engage in proactive landscape management and protection. However, the ELC is proving difficult to implement due to the complex meaning of the term ‘landscape’ (Mikusiński et al. Citation2013), in which it combines, along with ecological functions, social, cultural and visual quality aspects of the landscape (The ELC defines ‘landscape’ as ‘an area, as perceived by people, whose character is the result of the action and interaction of natural and/or human factors’ ([CE] Council of Europe Citation2000).


Within the context of landscape protection, the EIA is the primary instrument facilitating decision-making, although it is not used to its fullest potential. The importance and achievements of the EIA over the decades of its existence are unquestionable. The latest EIA research focuses on assessing the effectiveness of the EIA (Retief et al. Citation2020; Alberts et al. Citation2021), others – uncertainties regarding the appropriateness of using the EIA (Getty and Morrison-Saunders Citation2020; Soria-Lara et al. Citation2020). Some authors indicate that more effective and efficient landscape protection should take place at the regional level in the Strategic Impact Assessment (SIA) (Hanusch and Fischer Citation2011).


Very little modern research focuses on landscape assessment as part of the EIA (Antonson Citation2011; De Montis Citation2014; Antonson and Åkerskog Citation2015; Pavlickova and Vyskupova Citation2015; Pereira et al. Citation2021). The subject of landscape assessment is analysed by Niţă et al. (Citation2015), who conducted a comparative analysis of the knowledge on landscape indicators. A topic widely covered is the inclusion of social participation and local awareness of the value of landscapes and their protection in planning processes (Santé et al. Citation2020). Other studies pertain to practical methods for assessing the ‘invisible’ aspects of landscapes such as smell, sound, naturalness or place identity and historical transformations that have shaped the forms of environments (Antonson Citation2011; Guerrini et al. Citation2018). Ioannidis et al. (Citation2022) developed a method of analysing the impact renewable energy projects have on landscape. The latest research on assessing visual impact focuses on instruments and techniques that increase the accuracy and precision of estimating the scale of visual effects (Palmer Citation2019, Citation2022). Within the context of landscapes, the effectiveness of EIA is contingent upon a great many factors. These include not only the legal system and the role it assigns to the landscape, or the characteristics of construction projects and the landscape that is at risk, but also social awareness, including the awareness of the decision-makers, investor pressure, as well as the funds allocated to particular studies and their deadlines.


Technical infrastructure is among the factors which have a direct or indirect, short- or long-term, reversible or irreversible impact on the landscape, especially if it affects valuable environmental and landscape ecosystems (Mészáros and Antonson Citation2020). This article presents a case of a great engineering project, which proves that the possibility of a negative landscape impact does not prevent decision-makers from approving projects, even those seen as controversial and causing public protests. The article describes a case where an engineering investment led to serious long-term and irreversible impact on the landscape. Due to this specificity, comparison with other engineering investments is not included. First of all, the decision-making process was complex and highly political with strong pressure from the current authorities (2005–2007 and 2015–2022). Moreover, potential serious environmental and landscape threats to the outstanding resources of Vistula Spit and Lagoon caused strong social controversy that has begun as early as the project’s planning stage. The case is unique, because it clearly shows the extent to which the outstanding beauty of the exceptional in Poland landscape, protected in many forms, is overlooked in investment processes in Poland, especially in those investments with political background.


Initially, two research questions were formulated: Is the EIA procedure in Poland sufficient to protect the landscape threatened by investments? Is the role of the landscape in investment processes the same as that of other elements of the environment, or smaller?


The aim of this article is to determine how the relationship between the size and significance of investment’s impact on the landscape and on other elements of the environment translate into decisions about the implementation of controversial investments, and to provide some valuable contribution to the development of good practices.


This article is a discussion of the effectiveness of landscape impact assessments in EIA in the Polish legal system. An example of poor practices related to the landscape protection is a large engineering investment described here – a canal running through the Vistula Spit, which is a region covered by numerous forms of nature and landscape protection, including Natura 2000.



2. Materials and methods


2.1. Research object


The Vistula Spit Canal is part of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdańsk and the Baltic Sea (Figure 1). It is a large-scale, strategic government project. Its purpose is to stimulate the economy of the Vistula Lagoon area, including the Port of Elbląg, by developing the river transport, via independent access to the open sea without the need to enter the Russian-controlled Strait of Baltiysk.


Figure 1. Location of the research object (author study, by Orzechowska-Szajda).


This engineering project encompasses a range of large technical structures: a breakwater complex in the Gulf of Gdańsk (length 1050 m and 620 m), a canal with a length of 1350 m, width of 120 m, a system of locks that bisects the Vistula Lagoon, waiting berths, two swing bridges, an artificial island in the Vistula Lagoon, and a waterway in the Lagoon leading to Elbląg. The total area of the project is approximately 560 ha ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018 Polish law classifies the project as having the potential to significantly impact the environment, and the project is thus subject to the EIA procedure. The research described here focuses on the part of the project that is of the highest importance from the perspective of the landscape – the Vistula Spit Canal (Figure 2).


Figure 2. a) visualisation of the Vistula Spit canal, b) project completion stages (author study a) by Orzechowska-Szajda b) based on www.geoportal.gov.pl by Puzdrakiewicz).



2.2. Research methods


This article constitutes a qualitative case study utilising the VIA (Visual Impact Assessment) method (Palmer Citation2016). This method is considered a valid technique for assessing relations, behaviours, attitudes, motivations and stress factors (Berg Citation2007). Visual impacts are changes to the scenic attributes of the landscape brought about by the introduction of visual contrasts (e.g. development) and the associated changes in the human visual experience of the landscape. VIA is the analysis of the potential visual impacts to the landscape and landscape views resulting from a proposed development or land management action. The document that contains a visual impact analysis is also often referred to as a VIA. VIA is based mainly on the assessment of the contrast created by a new investment in the landscape (Bureau of Land Management).


The case study involved a review of an EIA report ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018) concerning the Vistula Spit. The assessment of the impact on the landscape was made on the basis of the review of EIA report, especially the chapter Landscape impact assessment, and supplemented with the ratings for potential visual exposure, conducted by the authors.


2.2.1. Review of the landscape impact assessment


The planned project was described from the perspective of its landscape impact.


A site visit was conducted; the local landscape was examined, including such criteria as rarity, high visual quality, charm of the place, unspoilt character, ‘spirit of the place’, intensive tourist use, authenticity, wildness, originality, picturesque views, beauty of unspoilt vast space, unique character of the landscape, uniqueness, outstanding in scale country’s resources and values; its vulnerability to changes was determined, and photographic documentation was compiled.


The potential negative effects of the planned project on the landscape were analysed; Expert judgment was used in the landscape impact assessment. Analyses were centred around those parts of the environment that were at most risk. Detailed landscape studies were conducted on the beaches from the Gulf of Gdańsk side, which are the areas offering the highest accessibility, are utilised to the highest degree, and provide an unobscured view of the project.


Computer visualisations (Appendix 1 a-d) were created in the EIA report for the planned project for the purpose of determining its visual impact zones, which in turn served as the basis for estimating the scale of potential landscape and visual conflicts. A simplified model was constructed which accounted for the actual dimensions of the designed breakwaters, the width of the beach, as seen on a topographic map maps.google, 2017, and fundamental data regarding the terrain. The height of the trees was averaged and allocated randomly. The visualisations were created from the point of view of the beach entrances on both sides of the canal (from a distance of 8000 m, 5600 m, 2900 m, 2000 m and 750 m from the east, and 920 m, 1270 m, 3000 m, 4800 m and 8000 m from the west, i.e. in particularly visually vulnerable locations with the highest number of users), from a height of 170 cm (average standing human eye-level) and 50 cm (average eye-level of a person sitting on a beach).


The landscape impact at the canal’s construction/operation stage was assessed, in addition to an assessment of the direct/indirect, permanent/temporary effects of various scales and intensities, as well as the impact on tourism.


Heuristic methods were employed to determine the significance of the landscape and visual impact; in particular, it was determined that the harmony of the landscape and its perception may be affected.


The landscape impact assessment process was based on expert’s evaluation who took into account the following criteria:

  • the nature, type, scale and spatial scope of landscape changes,
  • the vulnerability of the environment to the threats and the importance assigned to the landscape,
  • the social conflicts associated with the change in the perception of the altered landscape.

The assessment of the significance of the impact of the construction and operation stages on particular parts of the environment, including the landscape, was done in the EIA report. The assessment has been based on the template which was followed by all experts preparing the report (Appendix 2). The significance result was the sum total of the weights of the impact on particular elements of the environment, divided by features, where a result of 7–11 represents a minor impact, 12–16 represents a moderate impact, and a result of 17–21 represented a major impact.


2.2.2. The ratings for potential visual exposure


Apart from the review of EIA report, an expanded assessment of the impact on the landscape was done for the purpose of this article. The ratings for potential visual exposure, determined on the estimated number of landscape observers, were defined by Palmer (Citation2016) as: Very high (5,000–700,000), High (1,000–5,000), Moderate (500–1,000), Low (10–500), Very low (above 0–10) and None (0). The estimated number of viewers was calculated based on the data acquired in the course of a population activity and potential analysis (Birr et al. Citation2021), based on the behaviours of mobile phone users in 2019. The spatial data acquired as a result pertained to mobile phone users, and constituted aggregate results sorted by location, time and frequency of visits, as well as their flows, i.e. location changes. The results of the research, based on data acquired from a single carrier, were extrapolated to the area’s entire population. The total market share of the carrier was estimated and made it possible to identify what is referred to as the SIM multiplier, which indicates the number of people in the country per carrier’s SIM card. The indices were ultimately set at 8.1 by taking into account population data published by the Central Statistical Office of Poland, and the domestic market share was estimated at 16.9% (Birr et al. Citation2021). Data specific to the gminas (the smallest unit of territorial division in Poland) of Sztutowo and Krynica Morska were isolated, taking into account the residents of the gminas and tourists. The number of tourists was also estimated within an 8 km zone on both sides of the canal, i.e. in the entire beachside visual impact area of the project, by calculating the availability of holiday lodgings in the area in relation to all lodgings available in both gminas, based on listings published by Google Travel. Following that, the total number of gmina users on an average summer holiday day and in the off season was corrected for the estimated share of the available lodgings in the analysed area (40.4% for the Gmina of Krynica Morska, 38.8% for the Gmina of Sztutowo). The estimates do not account for increased visual exposure due to higher boat traffic after the opening of the canal.


To assess the impact of investments on tourism, an analysis of existing studies was conducted, in order to identify the landscape protection goals resulting from country, regional and local spatial policy and from strategic documents.



3. Results – analysed case


3.1. Landscape factors


The Vistula Spit landscape is characterised by a diversity and richness of forms and features, strong visual contrasts, and exposure properties which result from being situated on the border of land and two bodies of seawater. This gives rise to visual openings in both directions – offering a view of the Gulf of Gdańsk and the Vistula Lagoon. The landscape stands out for its broad, sandy beach in the Gulf of Gdańsk, the length of which is 30 kilometres.


The landscape’s resources and qualities are unique and qualities that are unique and unequalled in the country – a fact that led to the establishment of various forms of legal protection (Figure 3).


Figure 3. Environmental and landscape factors (author study by Orzechowska-Szajda, based on EKO-KONSULT 2018).



In addition, natural and semi-natural landscapes, visual unity, the exceptional seaside panoramas, and the beauty of the intact space resulted in the significance of the landscape being high in the opinion of the viewers (Data 2).


3.2. Threats to the landscape


Detailed landscape studies included in the EIA report were conducted on those parts of the environment that were at most risk – the beaches of the Gulf of Gdańsk, which are utilised to the highest degree during the summer season, and provide the perfect and unobscured view of the two breakwaters dividing the sandy beach and extending into the waters of the Gulf ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018).


The visualisations and site inspection demonstrate that the breakwaters will constitute a distinctive, technological, horizontal element that will dominate the area, and which will be visible from a distance of approx. 3–5 km from each side of the port, depending on the weather conditions and lighting. The area of significant loss of landscape values is estimated at 6–10 km of the beach strip, i.e. at approx. 1/4 to 1/3 of the entire Polish section of the Vistula Spit (Table 1).


In the landscape impact assessment included in the EIA report ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018), it was determined that the new breakwaters, alien in form and visible from a significant distance, will obscure the landscape and completely alter the perception of a large portion of the area. On both sides of the Vistula Spit, significant sections of the landscape will transform from semi-natural to technological. These effects will be permanent, irreversible and unacceptable.


The main qualities of the Vistula Spit – its continuity and picturesqueness – will be permanently fragmented and irreversibly affected. This area will suffer from significant negative effects which cannot be compensated for ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018).


3.3. The ratings for potential visual exposure


For the purpose of this article and in order to conduct a holistic assessment of the visual impact, the calculations of the visibility range of the project were expanded to include its ratings for potential visual exposure. Table 2 contains data on the average number of people across several days in the Gminas of Sztutowo and Krynica Morska, as well as in a buffer zone of 8 km from the project. It is estimated that, at the peak of the summer season, when only tourists are considered, the average number of people per kilometre of beach in the area where the visual impact of the project is strongest may reach 688, and when other users are also taken into consideration, e.g. local residents, the number may be as high as 1934 people/km of beach. Taking the above into account, and assuming the Palmer intervals (2016) described in section 2.2., the research demonstrated that the level of visual exposure for the area is high.


This proves that the negative assessment of the impact on the landscape and visual aspects included in the EIA report is justified and objective. A large area of the Vistula Spit, extremely attractive for tourists and used by thousands of vacationers every year, will be exposed to significant visual disturbances. This will significantly reduce the quality of recreation for thousands of tourists. Despite these conclusions from the EIA report, they were not taken into account when making the decision to dig through the Vistula Spit.


3.4. Impact on tourism


The aforementioned features, picturesque tourist trails and relatively low development of the area resulted in the Vistula Spit and its surroundings becoming a highly popular place for recreation and sports. Tourists visiting the analysed area consisted in 2.5% of inhabitants of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, in 88.6% of tourists from other regions of Poland, with foreign visitors accounting for 8.9% (Birr et al. Citation2021) of all visitors.


The main objectives of the efforts in the Vistula Spit and Lagoon area, according to the strategic and planning documents (Data 1), are to preserve the unique landscape while ensuring socio-economic development in the form of the shipping channel (Puzdrakiewicz and Połom Citation2021). These goals are contradictory. Many of the analysed documents identify the landscape as an important resource, but the related objectives appear too indeterminate to offer a sufficient degree of protection. Many stipulations pertaining to the landscape are combined with environmental protection and preserving the integrity of natural structures. The main indicator of the achievement of landscape protection objectives is the number/area of environmental protection forms. However, despite the fact that legal forms of protecting the analysed area have been established, and that the project contradicts the objectives of several planning and strategic documents, the project was approved by way of a special act (Act of 24 February 2017 on investments in the construction of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Bay of Gdańsk), which in practice offers an easier and more expedient route to completing the project. Therefore, the stipulations, recommendations and concerns included in the planning and strategy documents were of little significance.


Moreover, the project is a source of strong social controversy creating a conflict between the investor (and supporting them authorities) and the residents of Krynica Morska, who are at risk of losing income from tourism, authorities of Gdansk, experts (ecologists, lawyers, economists, associations related to nature and landscape protection), NGOs, fishermen, individual citizens, visitors interested in the local nature, and tourists (Data 2).


Although public consultations on the investment took place in accordance with Polish and EU law, it was done to a minimal extent. The EIA report was made available to the public and over 100 comments, objections and written requests were collected. Despite that, the investor did not take the opportunity to carry out extended consultations open to the public.


No test related to the landscape impact assessment nor to tourism threats with the participation of stakeholders has been performed as part of the EIA procedure, although in this case a large negative influence on the unique landscape has been predicted in EIA report. The loss of the main qualities of the Vistula Spit, may lower the tourist attractiveness of the area, although some claim that the canal and its locks can themselves serve as a tourist attraction, a view that is even expressed in several of the planning documents. Nonetheless, the expert opinion included in the EIA report assessed the impact on tourism as negative and permanent ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018). Even though the environmental decision states that the investment aroused great public interest and the opinions are divided, the decision was positive for the implementation of the investment ([RDEP] Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection Citation2018).


3.5. Mitigation measures pertaining to the landscape


The research demonstrated that there are no measures which could help to avoid, or mitigate the significant negative impact of the canal on the landscape and its visual aspects. Nor is it possible to compensate for the damage to the landscape of the Gulf-side beach strip, or the perception of the landscape.


The effects on the beach as a pedestrian, bicycle, skiing and running route for tourists, which will involve a permanent disruption of its continuity, can be mitigated by creating a pedestrian and bicycle route along the canal, leading from the beach to the lifting bridge. However, as stated in the EIA report, the above-mentioned tourist amenity will not serve as a replacement for the lost visual experiences ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018).


3.6. The significance of the landscape impacts and its impact on the decision


The results (Appendix 3) indicate that the negative effects may only apply to the landscape – the sum total of the weights of the identified effects on the landscape was 19, where a result of 17–21 is treated by the methodology as significant. The studies demonstrated that the project, both in the construction and operation stages, will have negative, direct and permanent effects on the Vistula Spit Landscape Park. These will apply to areas of high environmental vulnerability. Significant negative effects cannot be compensated for.


However, this did not prevent the authorities from approving the project, despite the fact that Poland ratified the ELC. This stems primarily from Polish and EU law, which does not rank landscape protection as highly as it does aspects such as plant, animal, and habitat protection. The fact that the analysed area is situated in Natura 2000 area does not protect the landscape itself, but only selected species and habitats. The impact on other parts of the environment was assessed to be insignificant to moderate, or no impact was identified ([EKO–KONSULT] EKO-KONSULT Sp z o.o. Citation2018). Therefore, the Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection in Olsztyn, responsible for approving the project, had no formal grounds to reject it due to a lack of appropriate laws ([RDEP] Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection Citation2018).



4. Discussion


The case presented in this article shows several problems of landscape assessments in the EIA in Poland. First, it is politicisation. Of particular significance in this context was country-level politics, as the Vistula Spit Canal has for many years been a flagship project of the ruling party and the current government. Since its inception, the project has been a source of conflicts and debates among politicians, local authorities, experts and non-governmental organisations concerning its purpose, economic viability and environmental impacts (Data 2).


A similar problem in the context of Spanish EIAs was also identified by Enríquez-de-Salamanca (Citation2021) – projects where impact on the environment was significant, economic viability was low and public utility was dubious at best have been assessed very positively in EIA reports in the past. Moreover, he believes that, should a government department decide that a project is necessary, an EIA agency can be forced to approve it and certify that it is sustainable.


Many researchers share a critical view of the actual role of EIAs in development processes. EIAs incorporate environmental aspects into the decision-making process but can be ineffective at rejecting projects where justification is weak, impact is significant, and public utility is minor, especially if such projects have political support. Enríquez-de-Salamanca (Citation2021) states that, although EIAs are political in nature, their politicisation as a part of the decision-making process must be limited to prevent them from becoming nothing more than an ‘environmental front’ for development. Kolhoff et al. (Citation2013) note that laws pertaining to EIAs are shaped by environmental authorities, who support them, and by other sector authorities, who hinder their implementation; the same can at times be extrapolated to the EIA process itself. Bond et al. (Citation2020) claim that EIAs support neoliberal programmes, facilitating economic development; EIAs can only render decision-making more responsible if strategies are implemented to depoliticise them.


Secondly, Poland lacks adequate legal protection of the landscape and clearly defined objectives of its protection, and the importance of landscape in relation to other elements of the environment is low. The fact that no significant impact on other elements of the environment were identified was a predominant reason for the approval of the project, despite the fact that the affected landscape is a part of the environment. However, this was not taken into consideration when issuing the decision and public interest was cited instead – an explanation that was questioned by many opponents of the canal. In the case analysed, the EIA procedure was used to demonstrate that, since the environmental impacts (apart from landscape impacts) would be insignificant, this should not prevent the project from commencing. This decision demonstrated that the landscape is a insignificant concern during construction processes in Poland. Forms of protection, such as Natura 2000 areas, occupy a high rank in environmental protection, but they do not protect the landscape as such, which automatically puts landscape values in the background. Research conducted by Mészáros and Antonson (Citation2020) demonstrates that in the two motorway construction cases they analysed, the main hindrance to protect landscape and cultural values was a lack of clear environmental protection goals. Similar to the case presented in this article, they demonstrated that the most important objectives in the EIA were traditional transport objectives, including increased accessibility (Antonson Citation2009), while those environmental objectives that pertained to the landscape and Natura 2000 areas were viewed as significantly less important. As a result, road planning was prioritised over landscape planning. Löfgren et al. (Citation2018) also identified conflicts of objectives at the regional administrative level between the objectives of transport infrastructure and environmental objectives – they draw attention to the exclusion of various landscape-related issues from strategic environmental assessment reports which assess the results of such changes.


Thirdly, the methodologies used in the EIA landscape assessments have their shortcomings. The low priority of the landscape may come from the difficulty of defining aesthetic values and their measurability, and as a result translates to only general recommendations on landscape protection being included in planning documents, most frequently without any detailed stipulations or definitions of specific areas or methods of their implementation. The fact that the law lacks proper landscape protection instruments may be related to the nature of landscape assessment, which is partially based on factors that are difficult to measure. Visual Impact Assessment (VIA) is a key aspect of EIA (Mouflis et al. Citation2008; Falconer et al. Citation2013). Unfortunately, in Poland there are no guidelines implemented in EIA procedures regarding the use of VIA, and this results in the use of subjective analysis techniques that are difficult to interpret and apply by decision-makers (Mouflis et al. Citation2008; Depellegrin Citation2016). Therefore, we have estimated the ratings for potential visual exposure. Another problem is decision-makers’ lack of awareness and knowledge of the value of the landscape. An opportunity in this aspect may be the landscape audit ([ASP] Act on Spatial Planning Citation2003), which is starting to be used in Poland. This document, drawn up for the area of the voivodship, identifies, characterises and valorises landscapes, indicating the priority ones, which is the first step in a reliable assessment of the impact of investments on the landscape in the procedures used around the world (e.g.: Ross Citation1979; Palmer Citation2016). Poland should learn from international experiences in this field.


This article presents only one, but very unique case study. It is difficult to find another example of such a large interference in the coastal landscape, which, as scientific research shows (Ogawa Citation2007; Depellegrin Citation2016), is a rare landscape, with great values, large view ranges, and taking into account the tourist use – is also a subject to a large view exposure. The presented case study clearly shows how poorly the beauty of the landscape is treated in Poland in investment processes, especially those of a political nature.


5. Conclusions and recommendations


The examined EIA report demonstrates that the environmental effects, caused by the canal, are moderate or insignificant, and therefore acceptable, as they do not affect fundamental natural qualities or values. However, the landscape effects were assessed as irreversible, and affecting fundamental landscape qualities. This statement, contained in the EIA report, was reinforced by additional studies in the form of the ratings for potential visual exposure. The study demonstrated that the possibility of mitigating the impacts on other parts of the environment does not go hand in hand with the possibility of mitigating the impact on the landscape, as no such possibility exists. Unfortunately, this did not stop the implementation of the planned investment.


The decision to dredge the Vistula Spit demonstrates that effects on the landscape come second to spatial development, particularly in Poland, where the law does not offer sufficient protection to the landscape.


Thus, all possible measures should be employed to emphasise the importance of the landscape in spatial management and in decision-making. It is necessary to not only enact relevant laws (at national and regional level), but also to develop standards for landscape assessment in the EIA (by education, training, workshops, developing and adopting the methods that will be repeatable, based on objective parameters), use landscape audit, which is a new instrument in Poland and not yet well used, and train decision-making authorities. But most importantly is to devise effective protection strategies (from country to local levels) and offer wide-ranging education on the role of the landscape in society. The role of landscape in space management should be strengthened and activities that destroy the landscape should be limited, mainly by educating decision-making officials, local government and government authorities – so that they are not subject to investor pressure.


In this sense the paper describes a poor practice in relation to the landscape, which might be of interest to the international community, and may offer additional value for practitioners. Further research and scientific discussion may help to overcome this problem.





M. Kiejzik-Głowińska is the main author, A. Sas-Bojarska and K. Puzdrakiewicz are co-authors of the EIA report on the environmental impact of the construction of a waterway connecting the Vistula Lagoon with the Gulf of Gdańsk.


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