Biebrza river valley

Country/territory: Poland

IBA criteria met: C1, C2, C3, C4, C6 (2010)
For more information about IBA criteria, please click here

Area: 136,900 ha

Ogólnopolskie Towarzystwo Ochrony Ptaków
IBA conservation status
Year of assessment (most recent) State (condition) Pressure (threat) Response (action)
2013 not assessed very high medium
For more information about IBA monitoring, please click here

Site description (2000 baseline)
The site comprises the whole of the natural (unregulated) course of the Biebrza river (164 km long) and its valley, along the border of the buffer zone of Biebrza National Park. The valley can be divided into three parts (the upper, middle and lower basin), which differ in physiography, hydrography and ecological character. In the upper basin the river is small and cuts through peat deposits. This area has been partly drained and presently consists of bogs, pastures and meadows, with fragments of marshy pine Pinus forest and mixed forest of oak Quercus and Pinus. The middle basin is dominated by fens, being a mosaic of open and scrub-covered sedge-beds and meadows on alluvial soils. Here there are two extensive areas of natural birch Betula forest and some areas are covered with swampy alder Alnus forest (admixed with spruce Picea) and fragmented Pinus forest. The lower basin floods in spring, so is used for haymaking and non-intensive cattle- and horse-grazing. The lower basin is 30 km long and 5-12 km wide. Valley mires here (mainly fens) are natural and have not been modified by man. Along the river are extensive wet meadows (covering c.10% of the lower basin) and many oxbow lakes covered with reeds Phragmites. Areas which are regularly and extensively flooded each spring are dominated by sedge-beds. Unflooded areas are covered by variably dense forest of willow Salix and Betula, as well as sedge-beds. Scrub succession here is proceeding rapidly. Farther away from the river there are extensive young riverside forests Alnus in marshy areas and fragments of mixed forest Quercus/Pinus.

Key biodiversity
This is the most important breeding place in central and western Europe for some threatened or localized species such as Gallinago media, Crex crex, Porzana porzana, Aquila clanga and Chlidonias leucopterus, and is also an important site for migrating waders, ducks, geese and Grus grus. Breeding species of global conservation concern that do not meet IBA criteria: Aythya nyroca (1-3 pairs), Haliaeetus albicilla (four pairs), Crex crex (common).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Important Bird Area factsheet: Biebrza river valley. Downloaded from on 30/11/2023.