Wetlands are hotspots of biodiversity and provide a myriad of benefits and services, including flood protection, drinking water, nutrient removal, wood/fiber, biomass, tourism and recreation, food, fish and fowl.
Despite this, the Danube, which is the European Union’s longest river, has seen 80% of its floodplains and wetlands disappear over the past 150 years.
Damage to the river has mainly been caused by diking, dredging and damming, which has taken place for a number of reasons including the need for hydroelectric power, shipping and to keep floodwaters at bay.
The effects have been wide-ranging and include plummeting fish and wildlife populations, decreases in water quality and damage to wetlands, which are no longer able to provide much needed biodiversity hotspots or to act as buffers to floodwaters.
That’s why WWF and The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) are working on a new seven year partnership to restore vital wetlands and floodplains along the River Danube and and its tributaries.
The ambitious project aims to increase the river capacity by the equivalent of 4,800 Olympic sized swimming pools (12 million m³) and to restore over 7,422 football pitches worth of wetland habitat (53 km²) by 2020.
The partnership will reconnect former floodplains to the river system by opening dikes and dams, as well as retaining water on the floodplains by working closely with relevant local authorities and stakeholders. At the same time, a regional movement will be created for wetland conservation and restoration, as well as good water stewardship.
The plan is to restore wetlands in Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as a project in Austria. Over the restoration period, measures such as removing dykes and dams to reconnect former floodplains and improve flooding capacity, reconstructing the wetland habitats of six threatened and endangered species and building a fish pass will be executed.
About The Coca-Cola Company and WWF
Since 2007, The Coca-Cola Company and WWF have worked together to conserve and protect freshwater resources around the world while helping to improve the efficiency of Coca-Cola’s global operations. To date, the partnership has led to major conservation gains, including helping to improve the ecological health of seven of the world’s most important freshwater basins across five continents, helping improve the Coca-Cola system’s water efficiency by 20 percent, working to prevent 5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions across Coca-Cola’s global manufacturing operations, and promoting more sustainable agricultural practices in the company’s supply chain.
"The ambitious project aims to increase the river capacity by the equivalent of 4,800 Olympic sized swimming pools (12 million m³) and to restore over 7,422 football pitches worth of wetland habitat (53 km²) by 2020."