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The halfway point of the construction of the KUMAK Masurian Biodiversity and Education Center in Urwitałt

The complex of the KUMAK Masurian Centre for Biodiversity and Education in Urwitałt takes its final shape. By the end of July, both buildings of the field station of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Warsaw will have reached their shell and core. The completion of the centre construction project is scheduled for 2022, and its official opening is in 2023.

“The building lump is now complete. Work is currently underway inside the buildings so that we can open a tender for the creation of an educational exhibition and equip the facilities in the following autumn,” says Grzegorz Górecki, head of the KUMAK Masurian Centre for Biodiversity and Education. As he emphasizes, already at this stage of implementation, the centre is a model facility that interferes with the surrounding nature as little as possible.The buildings are located on the university plot adjacent to the Łuknajno Lake nature reserve, areas protected by the Ramsar convention (about wetlands) in the Masurian Landscape Park and the Masurian Lakes biosphere reserve. During construction, environmentally friendly technology was implemented, with the use of energy-saving and low-emission solutions. Not only do the implemented architectural solutions reduce the impact on the environment, but they also reduce the maintenance costs of the facilities in the future. The design made by the KWADRATURA architectural studio from Warsaw received a distinction in 2018 in the Polish Green Building Association competition, in the Best Ecological Building category. The contractor for construction works in Urwitałt is SZCZUKA Construction Company from Woszczela near Ełk.

Grzegorz Górecki, the centre manager, emphasizes that “not only does the investment encompass the construction of two buildings, but also the active protection of naturally valuable habitats in the vicinity of Lake Łuknajno”. Furthermore, he announces that this autumn, the implementation of the part of the project will begin that will stop the trend in the local lowering of surface and groundwater levels.

“The research station of the Faculty of Biology, existing here for over four decades, is currently rebuilding and changing its profile. Academic work will continue at the centre, but we will also open up to broader education. We will have an educational offer for residents of Warmia and Masuria, students, organized groups, and individual guests. I believe that the protection of biodiversity is possible primarily through education,” says Grzegorz Górecki.

Two facilities will be built as part of the project. The research and education building will house the following laboratories: soil science, environmental chemistry, microscopy, computer/GIS and molecular. It will be open to organized groups most of the year. The second facility, available in the spring and summer, will house an educational exhibition for all interested parties. Terrariums and aquariums presenting animals and plants of Warmia and Masuria will constitute its essential part.  “The KUMAK Masurian Biodiversity and Education Centre will be a unique facility both in Poland and Europe. By focusing on the protection of biodiversity in small freshwater reservoirs, we will, first of all, broaden the knowledge of visitors about the surrounding nature. For example, few people know that the region is home to the European pond turtle and rare bird species such as little crake and water rail. Education on the preservation of wetland ecosystems is particularly important now – in the age of climate change,” explains Grzegorz Górecki.

The amount of EU funding for the construction of the KUMAK Masurian Centre for Biodiversity and Education in Urwitałt, under the Regional Operational Program, is approximately PLN 23.8 million. The value of the entire investment is estimated at approximately PLN 32.9 million. Annually, the centre will be able to host about 10,000 nature lovers.