Conservation wins in the Danube-Carpathian region in 2018
Posted on 20 December 2018
As the year draws to a close, we reflect on what we have accomplished
As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on what we have accomplished for wildlife, nature and people in Central and Eastern Europe in the past 365 days.
We saved Csarna Valley in Hungary,
We won two court cases for Pirin National Park, a World Heritage Site in Bulgaria,
We stood together to protect all sources of Europe’s water,
We improved protection for old growth forests across the Danube-Carpathian region,
We saw more bison return to the Southern Carpathians,
We worked to save sturgeon, the world’s most endangered group of fish.
These achievements would not have been possible without your support.
Thank you for joining us in saving the Green Heart of Europe!
Take a look at our 2018 in review (and scroll down to watch the videos too :) :
One of the largest conservation campaigns in Hungarian history saved Csarna Valley – an untouched forest area of 1000 hectares in the Carpathian Mountains. A plan to develop tourist railways in the valley would have dramatically affected the valley’s ecosystems. WWF-Hungary together with more than 70,000 supporters succeeded in preserving the valley and its natural ecosystems for the future generations.
WWF and the other NGOs of the For the Nature coalition won two court cases against the government of Bulgaria’s plans to open Pirin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Bulgaria’s premier protected area, up to construction. In 2018, tens of thousands of people marched on the streets to #SavePirin, not only in Bulgaria, but in London, Berlin, Oxford, Sydney and other cities worldwide. The final court rulings are expected in 2019.
Together with the creative agency Noble Graphics, WWF received three awards (gold, silver and bronze) at a prestigious annual advertising festival in Bulgaria for the creative camouflage campaign, part of the #SavePirin communication campaign.
A hundred NGOs launched a new campaign calling on the European Commission to defend the EU law that protects all sources of Europe’s water, such as rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater, during its ongoing evaluation (known as a “fitness check”). The online campaign, called #ProtectWater, is led by WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, European Anglers Alliance, European Rivers Network and Wetlands International, who together form the Living Rivers Europe coalition. Until now 200,000 citizens signed the petition:
Thousands of people across Europe jumped into rivers, streams and lakes in more than 160 European ‘Big Jump’ events to show that EU Member States must follow the positive spirit of the EU water law which they committed to.
Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies is pushing nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 presented a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.
With the official support of over 350 cities across Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine, thousands of people in Central and Eastern Europe celebrated Earth Hour 2018 and raised awareness on sustainable living. Nearly 850 well-known landmarks and facades of government buildings turned dark to shine a light on climate action.
WWF and Rewilding Europe completed a successful reintroduction of 23 European bison at two sites in the Southern Carpathian mountains of Romania. The animals, which were sourced from nine European nature reserves and zoos, were released over the course of several weeks. This reintroduction – the largest ever in the Carpathians – significantly advanced the comeback of this magnificent species and increased the local population to 53.
After decades of plummeting numbers due to poaching and habitat loss, Europe’s sturgeon species have been given some much needed hope at last after 50 European countries and the European Union signed up to a detailed continental-wide action plan to save the iconic fisht:
The Danube Delta of Romania has been mapped and is now available on Street View in Google Maps. The Delta is present with all its beauty, from waterways to lakes and channels covered by vegetation, birds and flora, local architecture, and villages surrounded by water. In total, over 1,500 kilometers of channels and roads are covered.
Hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers took part in the sixth edition of the nature conservation volunteer event PET Cup, aimed at cleaning up the Tisza River and promote environmental awareness. WWF-Hungary joined the race again with River Panda, our recycled boat. This year a small team from WWF-Ukraine also joined the panda crew.
In an effort to raise awareness and spread the message: “Can you see how amazing nature in and along the Danube is?”, Ana Tudor, an artist living in Serbia, immortalized on a 1km-long linen canvas the unique nature of the Danube River and its endangered plant and animal species:
WWF and ESRI Romania presented a new free interactive online map through which anyone can add information about hydropower plants. Many are constructed in the wrong places and without proper environmental impact assessment and threaten valuable natural areas in the Danube-Carpathian region.
At its 42nd session in Bahrain, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved a decision on the lack of protection of the Slovak part of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians site. The World Heritage Committee asked the Slovak government to accelerate the process of refining borders, ensuring legal protection and continuing negotiations with the owners.
WWF and civic association PRALES reached an agreement with the state forest enterprise of Slovakia safeguarding unprotected old growth forests in Slovakia. No human intervention will be executed on 2,230 ha of such forests. This was an important step in fulfilling the obligations of Slovakia before the Carpathian Convention.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources officially approved a methodology for the identification and conservation of primeval, old-growth, and natural forests. It is based on criteria of the Carpathian Convention with the help of a document developed by WWF in Ukraine.
Ukrainian authorities ordered its administrations in the Carpathian region to stop issuing felling tickets for plots that were identified by WWF as virgin and old growth forests. The total area of identified old growth forest plots under management of the State Forest Management Agency is over 59,000 ha, including 26,000 ha of virgin forests.
WWF has begun large-scale field research in Polissia, Ukraine, aimed at identifying and preserving vast stretches of Ukraine’s regional virgin forests. According to a preliminary analysis, from 10,000 to 20,000 hectares could be preserved.
In Ukraine, the fishing regimes for 2018 have been approved to reduce bycatch of highly endangered sturgeons. Industrial and amateur fishing of all wild sturgeon species was permanently banned in the Black Sea basin. Thus, even occasionally caught sturgeons should be released back.
Infrastructure development plans for the Carpathian countries aim to cover the region with a dense web of roads and railways. But the natural richness of the area may get trapped and isolated in this web. To prevent this, the TRANSGREEN project brought together road builders, environmentalists, key experts and decision makers who can influence and improve the way infrastructure is developed.
In 2018, WWF secured 2,000 hectares and in total identified 35,000 hectares of old-growth forests in Romania. Also, a campaign for recognition of 500,000 hectares of unmanaged forest to be recognised as forests by the Romanian State was launched.
A successful 3-year-long project aiming to improve the conservation status of Natura 2000 forest sites was carried out for the first time in Hungary creating cooperation among forest owners, forest managers, forest authorities, state and civic conservation actors and local citizens. WWF-Hungary announced the Living Forest Award for private forest managers working in Natura 2000 areas.
Bulgarian National Forest Stewardship Standard (FSC) entered into force
In 2018 the full requirements of the FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard in Bulgaria entered into force. Approximately a third of Bulgarian forests are certified by FSC at present. Bulgaria ranks among the first countries in Europe to successfully secure such a standard.
An outstanding international conference in September 2018, called Pathways, focused on wildlife conflicts in Europe and looked for solutions that are in line with conservation laws. Our continent is densely populated and many people feel threatened by the return of large carnivores such as wolves, bears or lynx.
Video Messages from the region
Andreas Beckmann, Managing Director, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme
Irene Lucius, Regional Conservation Director, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme
Katalin Sipos, Country Director, WWF- Hungary
Orieta Hulea, Country Director, WWF- Romania
Vesselina Kavrakova, Country Director, WWF- Bulgaria
Miroslava Plassmann, Country Director, WWF- Slovakia