Protection of bird colonies takes flight with creation of three Ramsar wetlands | WWF

Protection of bird colonies takes flight with creation of three Ramsar wetlands

Posted on
16 April 2013
Ruse, Bulgaria – The environmental ministers of Bulgaria and Romania officially signed a proposal to create three new transboundary wetland complexes along the Danube River prepared by WWF late last year. The new sites will later be considered and approved by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands.

“The new transboundary wetland complexes – Srebarna-Lake Calarasi, Belene Islands Complex-Suhaia and Ibisha Island-Bistret – will allow for the full protection of the bird colonies that nest and feed in Bulgaria and Romania. The two countries will be able to take coordinated, cooperative measures to better protect wetlands and migratory species, which feed, winter, nest and breed on both sides of the river,” said Laurice Ereifej, head of WWF Central and Eastern Europe Freshwater Programme.

Monitoring done by WWF in the last three years shows that heron colonies that nest on the Bulgarian island of Ibisha feed in the Romanian lake of Bistret. The same goes for pygmy cormorants and pelicans nesting in the Srebarna Lake in Bulgaria that feed in the Romanian lake of Calarasi.

“The two countries can work on a joint strategy for wetland management that will allow for the full protection of the bird species. Bulgaria and Romania can take coordinated measures by executing common bans on logging and hunting in the region and by not allowing access to the bird colonies during breeding,” said Ivan Hristov, head of Freshwater for WWF-Bulgaria.

At the end of 2012, WWF launched a study of Bistret, Suhaia, Calarasi, Srebarna, Ibisha and Belene Islands Complex as part of the Green Borders LIFE+ EU-funded project to propose transboundary conservation measures for bird species and to designate cross-border nature reserves along the Lower Danube.

Wetlands include rivers, lakes, ponds and floodplain forests, among others. They are among the most valuable ecosystems as they preserve a huge amount of biodiversity and ensure ecosystem services for humans. Wetlands play a key role in the water cycle, restore water supplies, can reduce floods, provide habitat for fish and purify surface or groundwater. In the last century, the majority of wetlands in Bulgaria and Romania have been destroyed. Their protection is a priority for WWF.

The Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands was signed on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian city of Ramsar. It is the first international agreement for the protection and sustainable use of natural resources. The mission of the Ramsar Convention is the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local, regional and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution to sustainable development.
Belene Island, Bulgaria. Former floodplain forests and wetlands are being restored in the Bulgarian part of the Danube River. The marsh has been reconnected with the river, creating rich feeding, breeding and spawning grounds for fish, flora and fauna.
© Александър Иванов