Abstract: The northern (“lower”) section of the Vistula is on the route of two international waterways—E70 and E40. However, the current condition of the riverbed prevents larger vessels from passing through. Plans for the waterway date back to the beginning of the 20th century. Following Poland’s ratification of the European Agreement on Main Inland Waterways of International Importance in 2017, the general concept has been transformed into more concrete studies and has found its place in the national development policy. The scientific and political discourse primarily addresses the potential benefits of river regulation in the field of transport and energy. Against this background, studies on the impact of investments on the natural environment are published less frequently. Meanwhile, the Vistula has for centuries influenced the formation of a unique cultural landscape, which will be severely transformed if the river is regulated. On the other hand, insufficient transit depths of the waterway result in the loss of the function of the historic transport corridor, which also changes the character of parts of the area dependent on the river—in particular, the riverside areas of towns. This article aims to indicate the need for a qualitative landscape assessment of how the impact of investments is assessed and the best solution chosen. Using the assumptions of the historic urban landscape, the author analyses the potential impact of the planned investment in the lower Vistula on the surrounding cultural landscape. The potential scope for change in two dimensions is indicated at the scale of the lower Vistula and the individual towns. The possible impact of the investments on the panoramas is illustrated for selected cases.
Keywords: heritage; historic urban landscape; river regulation; UNESCO