The Rospuda Valley (Dolina Rospudy) in Poland is unique pristine peatland and the habitat of many rare animal and plant species. The valley became a protected area and part of the European Natura 2000 network in 2004 when Poland joined the European Union. In 2006, the authorities of Augustów and General Directorate for National Roads and Motorways (GDDKiA) have decided to build the Augustów Bypass right through the Rospuda valley. The bypass is a part of the Via Baltica project that envisages the connection of Helsinki through the Baltic states and Poland with Germany. The Augustów Bypass was suggested to solve the pollution and accidents problems in Augustów provoked by heavy traffic at the S8 expressway and it is also recognised as vital to the economy of the region, one of the poorest in Europe.