Republic of Poland

The winners of the Quarry Life Award

November 9th 2016

We decided to combine life science – as we deal with bees – with technical knowledge and this is why we turned for help to GeoIT specialists. This is how we first came to the idea and later carried out the project of bee protection as well as spatial and environmental visualization of the Górażdże limestone mine – says Paweł Michołap, a doctoral student at the faculty Life Sciences and Technology and a vice-chairman of the Nature and Man Association (consisting mainly of graduates and doctoral Students of WUELS) which carried out the project together with GeoIT Student Science Club.

It might seem that mining grounds is the last place for bees. This is, however, far from truth. Even if the land has not yet been in any way rehabilitated and has no soil layer, it is nevertheless inhabited by so-called pioneer plants which begin soil formation processes, at the same time being an excellent nutritional basis for bees. They are most often papilionaceae plants – shamrock, vicia or bird’s-foot trefoil – which used to be utilized as cattle feed but today they are losing popularity. Hence, when everywhere else lack of food causes disappearance of bees, they find an excellent environment in mines – explains Paweł Michołap. Marcin Sikora, a graduate of WUELS Environmental Protection studies, adds:

– We have carried out an inventory and it turned out that there are 46 species of bees, that is one-tenth all of all species living in Poland. Moreover, among them there are several particularly rare ones: Bombus sylvarum which have become extinct in, for example, Great Britain, Coelioxys and Scolia sexmaculata which are on the red list of endangered species in Europe.

A 12-people team, which took care with bees on the mine grounds, created also flower meadows to support pollinators and bee infrastructure, i.e. houses for lonely bees, booths for bumblebees and also a wild beehive.

– There was a time when there were no regular beehives but there was bee-keeping. A man, who was a bee-keeper drilled special chambers for bees in live trees (these were wild beehives) or in large cut down pieces which he hang on the trees. – We photographed the whole area using drones which the University possesses and on the basis of the photographs and measurements we made 3D numeric models. Additionally, with the use of the data from the IT system of the Country’s Protection against Extreme Hazards, we made a visualization comparing changes that have occurred there since more or less the beginning of the century – says Łukasz Guźniczak from the Students Science Club of GeoIT specialists. Animals, plants and protective measures carried out during the project were all then mapped onto the models. The rehabilitation process itself is tedious and time-consuming – its effects will only be seen in 4-6 years.

fot. Quarry Life Award

Thanks to the idea and its realization on the grounds of the Górażdże mine the representatives of WUELS won the Polish stage of the international Quarry Life Award which promotes knowledge about biodiversity in mines and contributes to increasing it. Now, along with other teams they are waiting for the jury’s decision at the international stage of the competition. Results will be known in December.