Significant changes continued to sweep the Danube-Carpathian region last year, presenting new challenges but also many opportunities for conservation and sustainable development in the region.
Most significantly, Romania and Bulgaria joined the European Union, taking on innovative legislation on water and river basin management and nature conservation, but also potentially destructive policies on transportation and development.
In order to better meet the challenges and grasp the opportunities for conservation in the region, WWF's Danube-Carpathian Programme focused its efforts last year on restructuring and developing its operations. Two new legal entities were created to support the staff and projects in Romania and Bulgaria. At the same time, we significantly expanded our public outreach and fundraising, led by our first campaigns in Romania and Bulgaria.
Defending natural treasures
Thanks to good progress in lobbying on implementation of EU conservation legislation, we are well on our way to achieving our target of 25% of the Danube-Carpathian region under protection by 2010. We continued to be closely involved in programming for use of EU funds, which opened significant opportunities for biodiversity-related support particularly in Romania and Bulgaria.
Much of our efforts sought to secure the region's greatest natural riches against increasing attacks, especially from illegal construction, logging and poaching. Our campaigns in Romania and Bulgaria brought national awareness to the plight of the countries' national parks and other protected areas. Our first international campaign, launched during summer 2007, is working with partner organizations up and down the Danube to stop EU and government plans to turn the river into little more than a shipping canal.
WWF-DCP also kicked off a major, 5-year programme to support protected areas across the Carpathian Mountains, part of a global WWF initiative supported by the MAVA Foundation to support implementation of the Convention for Biological Diversity's Programme of Work on Protected Areas.
A positive vision for development
While defending the region's natural treasures, we also stepped up our efforts to develop and practically implement positive visions for sustainable development across the Danube-Carpathian region. With support from WWF-Netherlands, we launched a major initiative to promote sustainable development of the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine, focusing on tourism, agriculture and shipping. We used the first meeting of the Carpathian Convention to launch another initiative, the Carpathian Opportunity, that is working with key economic sectors including forestry, food and tourism across the Carpathians.