“Our beloved rivers are in peril,” Chara says. “My mission is to save at least the one I grew up with.”

The Power of Photography

Piotr Chara is a passionate wildlife photographer turned conservationist through his love of the Oder River. Photography is the lifeblood of his environmental work. As a witness to both tragedies and beautiful moments, he feels he carries a responsibility to take action and educate others about the threats facing their local ecosystems.

Chara grew up fishing on the banks of the Oder. As he got older, he watched the migratory birds and native species disappear through the lens of his camera. Now, he’s leading his family to restore the eroded wetlands and provide homes for the birds that depend on them.

It Takes a Village

Chara founded Green Valley of Oder & Warta (ZDOW) to protect the Oder wetlands and the species that inhabit it. The foundation creates artificial islands for predator-proof breeding grounds out of old military pontoons and has saved nearly 50 bird nests so far. ZDOW has even achieved reservation status for the natural wetlands of the Oder River, protecting it for generations to come. 

“I truly want for these treasures, like the backwater and the old delta, with its natural features, to stay forever for our descendants.”

A Closer Look at the Oder

The Oder River lies in Central Europe. The over 528 miles (850km) long body of water starts in the Czech Republic and flows through Poland before joining the Baltic Sea. The few wetlands that remain are the most fertile habitats in Europe for migrating birds to start families. But if those wetlands disappear, there will be nowhere for them to breed. ZDOW’s work is helping these important bioindicator species thrive again. 



At the end of the first season, 100 fledglings flew off of the man-made breeding islands.



The Oder is the second-largest river in Poland and is over 528 miles (850 km) long.



The Green Valley of Oder and Warta have created a total of 8 breeding islands from old military pontoons.

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