Protection of valuable water dependent ecosystems in urban areas
Water dependent ecosystems are habitats most vulnerable to urbanization pressure. There are not many such habitats in Warsaw. Those which remained are mostly dewatered sites existing within green areas such as parks. Habitats with peat and moorsh soils have a unique value, thus there is a rational need for detailed research and evaluation to preserve them. This paper is a case-study of two different water dependent ecosystems, localized within the boundaries of Poland's capital city, both remaining under strong urbanization pressure. Different actions were undertaken to preserve those habitats, with differing results. We examined tendencies of vegetation during recent 20-30 years, basing on floristical data. In the areas, where water regime has been disrupted, like Natural Landscape Complex "Olszyna" a significant decline of plants rare in the scale of Warsaw is being noticed. Habitats not disturbed by human interference like "Zakole Wawerskie" do not suffer significant changes, even an increase of rare plants was marked. Presence of water dependent ecosystems is also correlated with population density. In the areas of highest population density these habitats occur seldom, are of a small size and have simplified border zones. The only areas within Warsaw borders where water dependent ecosystems maintained are the urban parks. In the last decades a progressive decline of wetlands is being noticed, which was also confirmed in this study. The only real chance for further preservation of this areas is to create biodiversity hotspots and good recreation infrastructure.