Ramsar designation brings benefits for communities
“I live in the town of Belene, which is next to the biggest Bulgarian Ramsar site – Belene Islands Complex. It was designated 10 year ago, in 2002. It got its designation because of the huge importance of its wetlands and associated biodiversity. The biggest island of the group, which is also the largest Bulgarian Danube island, Belene Island, hosts wetlands that are unique for Bulgaria. The three marshes are home to over 200 species of birds.
The Ramsar designation of Belene Islands Complex has helped our community to promote Belene, not only in Bulgaria but also abroad. The designation largely contributed to the selection of the site for a 2006 project to reconnect former floodplain forests and wetlands on Belene Island with the river. After the project was completed, wetlands regularly fill with water – fish stocks are restored, the number and species of birds has increased.
Local people appreciate living close to this Ramsar site. The Ramsar site and the wetlands it safeguards are the reason many small and medium businesses linked to tourism, hospitality, bird watching and fishing have developed. Restored wetlands are an important spawning place for fish that support local livelihoods. Wetlands and swamps of course have some disadvantages, mosquitoes being one of them.”
Adnana Mihaela Patrascoiu, School Director in Sfantu Gheorghe, Tulcea, Romania
“I live close to the Danube delta, which is the first Ramsar site in Romania, designated in September 1991. The designation came out of a desire to preserve the rich biodiversity of this unique spot. The delta is one of the biggest wetlands in the world, home to so many bird species. A Ramsar designation helps with planning the sustainable development of the area.
Being a Ramsar site has meant that local people can practice sustainable agriculture, fishing, forestry and tourism, using the renewable resources of the Danube delta. There is no industry in the area and, as local people, we can enjoy pristine nature. I think that because of the Ramsar designation, people are aware of the importance and unique character of the Danube delta. The most obvious evidence for this is the fact that sustainable tourism is being developed more and more. Bird watching, for example, has become the chief tourist attraction.”