On 21st January we participated in the on-line "Forum for the Bieszczady Mountains", organized by the Polish Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy, the Programme’s Managing Authority. The meeting was moderated by Małgorzata Jarosińska-Jedynak, Secretary of State in this ministry. Cross-border cooperation was one of the important topics of the Forum.
The Carpathians, including the Bieszczady Mountain Range, are areas of extremely precious natural and cultural values. Unfortunately, their border location, difficult mountain conditions, long-distance to main communication routes and development centers, characterizes them as a low rate of socio-economic growth. These mountains regions are an important part of the Programme area with strong Polish-Ukrainian cross-border ties and simultaneously with several valuable projects implemented there. The Programme in its subsequent editions strives to protect the environment in that part, increase accessibility, enhance access to healthcare and promote cultural and natural heritage.
Thanks to the support of the Programme, many problems have already been solved. The transport accessibility of the Bieszczady Mountains will improve, among others, as a result of the modernization of almost 7 km of the voivodeship road No. 885 leading from the state border to Przemyśl (LIP885 project). The most damaged sections of the roads in the Bieszczadzki poviat have also been rebuilt, with a total length of 15.5 km, thanks to which you can reach the mountains from the border crossing Krościenko-Smolnica (SouthWay project). These investments will serve thousands of residents and tourists, who will benefit from improved safety and driving comfort, as well as reduced transport costs and negative environmental impact.
Healthcare and public safety is an extremely important aspect of life. However, medical facilities in Bieszczady have many problems in this area. The answer to their needs, especially the poor technical condition of equipment and weak adapting of healthcare services to the patients’ needs is the implementation of HealthOnTheBorderPLUA project. The cooperation of hospitals from Ustrzyki Dolne and Staryi Sambir will provide patients with access to modern medical equipment and extensive diagnostics, and will give them a new quality of medical services. Thanks to the additional funds allocated by the Programme to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it was possible to expand the scope of the planned activities both on the Polish and Ukrainian side. In the hospital in Ustrzyki Dolne, existing rooms were modernized and adapted to the needs of diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients and convalescents struggling with complications from the disease.
Concern for safety also means ensuring an efficient rescue system, which is especially important in mountainous areas, where an increasing number of tourists means a greater risk of potential accidents. Thanks to the implementation of SOSRescue project, coordination and training centres will be established on both sides of the border, which will guarantee comprehensive support for rescue teams. In Poland, such centre already operates in a repurposed school building in Równia and it is one of the most modern facilities in Europe. In addition, project partners will be equipped with advanced rescue devices, including operational vehicles, medical equipment, evacuation tools, water rescue services, GPS and software, avalanche rescue kits and drones with thermal cameras as well as a new IT system for coordinating cross-border rescue operations. It will increase the effectiveness of cross-border rescue actions translating directly into a shorter time of operations’ mobilization and a higher level of security and protection for people in the cross-border region of Bieszczady in Poland and Ukraine.
As Bieszczady is an extremely valuable natural area, it is impossible to ignore such an important field as environmental protection. The Solina Lake, mountain rivers and streams are a place of occurrence of many valuable natural species. However, the inadequate drainage system and wastewater treatment cause a risk of water pollution, loss of biodiversity and is dangerous for human health. Thanks to the support of the Programme, this problem has been largely solved. New sewerage networks ensuring safety and protection of the environment were built in the villages of Czaszyn, Brzozowiec and Tarnawa Dolna (RiversHeritage project), where 270 households and buildings will be connected to the new 27 km long sanitary sewerage system and in the Solina commune (ProtectWater project), where a nearly 8 km long network has already been completed.
Most of all, the Bieszczady Mountains with their rich natural and cultural heritage are an area with high tourism potential. Thanks to numerous micro-projects implemented within the Programme new attractive tourist products, such as: Cross-border Wooden Architecture Route (WoodenRoute project), Wallachian Culture Trail (Wallachian project), astronomical shows in the Bieszczady Star Sky Park (CarpatianSky project) or multimedia tourist guide on the San and Strwiąż Rivers (SlowRivers project) will be created. Cultural events will also be organised - festivals, historical reconstructions (Touch_history project) and numerous other exhibitions, trainings and workshops presenting culinary traditions (MountainTaste project), crafts, showing the beauty of the architecture (WoodenTreasure project), the richness of the flora and fauna (FISH project), or presenting famous historical figures connected with these areas, such as Ignacy Łukasiewicz (OilCradle project). All these activities supported by a large-scale promotional campaign will significantly increase the region's recognition and attractiveness, and as a result, will allow to attract more tourists.
We hope that the ties established between the partners through the implementation of our projects, as well as their already visible results will ensure that cross-border cooperation in the Bieszczady region will be successfully continued in the next editions of the Programme, contributing to further development of this undoubtedly unique region.
The total value of EU co-financing for the projects being implemented in this part of the Carpathians within the Programme is approx. 17 MEUR.
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