World Wetlands Day: WWF celebrates Danube restoration projects



Posted on 31 January 2014  | 
Gornje Podunavlje
Gornje Podunavlje
© Jaroslav PapEnlarge
More than 80% of the Danube's wetlands have been lost for the last 150 years. And with them the rich diversity of fish and other species on which they depend. The Danube has been much abused. Dikes, dams and dredging have straightened large sections of the river.

WWF's efforts in the Danube region focus on the protection and restoration of wetland and floodplain areas, especially on the Lower Danube and Danube Delta as well as valuable areas on the Tisza, Drava, and Morava tributary rivers and sub-basins.

In the past year a major wetland restoration project in the Mura-Drava-Danube area was implemented on two sites, Kopački Rit Nature Park in Croatia and Gornje Podunavlje Special Nature Reserve in Serbia. Both sites are part of the vast Central Danube Floodplain that presents one of the most prolific wetland area in the middle course of the Danube.

WWF has successfully concluded its largest conservation project in Hungary which revitalised a 3 km long side arm and brought back the natural floodplain forest of Liberty Island on the Danube River. The project also contributes to securing drinking water for the citizens of Pecs and Mohacs and enhances opportunities for eco-friendly tourism and recreation in the area.

WWF is also working on a restoration project onver more than 900 hectares of agricultural land in the Mahmudia area of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, a Natura 2000 site in Romania. It aims to create conditions for maintaining biodiversity in the area and increase habitat connectivity by reducing fragmentation from embankments and drainage done in the past.

World Wetlands Day on 2 February marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar. Since last World Wetlands Day three new transboundary wetland complexes along the Danube River, prepared by WWF along the Danube, were approved by the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention.

The designation of Lake Calarasi – Srebarna, Suhaia - Belene Islands Complex and Bistret - Ibisha Island 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.
Gornje Podunavlje
Gornje Podunavlje
© Jaroslav Pap Enlarge
Great white pelicans are elegant and high-stamina gliders. They are sociable birds, which mate in large colonies and hunt in groups. 70% of all Great white pelicans worldwide live in the summer in the Danube Delta.
© Anton Vorauer WWF Enlarge
Liberty Island on the Danube River in Hungary after a restoration project by WWF and partners
Liberty Island on the Danube River in Hungary after a restoration project by WWF and partners
© WWF Hungary Enlarge
Danube Delta, Romania.
Danube Delta, Romania.
© Michel Gunther / WWF-Canon Enlarge

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