More than 10,000 ha of the Danube Delta can be restored
The scientific expedition, which included scientists and experts from academic institutions and public organizations of Southern Ukraine, started from the city of Izmail and travelled by water and land to study a large part of the Ukrainian Danube Delta.
The scientists evaluated the possible effects of climate change on different ecosystems – from lakes and marshes to the river and its branches, and conducted a preliminary assessment of the existing stock of phytomass.
To improve the chances of the Danube Delta to adapt to the new conditions that are the result of climate change, the Delta must be returned to its natural state as much as possible. Large parts of the Delta were drained artificially for use in agriculture during Soviet times. When restored, the Danube Delta would act as a natural filter, purifying the water of the Danube, reducing the level of the river during floods and acting as a spawning area for valuable fish species.
Tens of thousands of hectares in the Danube Delta are currently abandoned, but more is needed to ensure their restoration – a desire for innovation, some investment and the agreement of local residents.
"At the moment the restoration of more than 10,000 hectares of wetlands seems quite realistic, since most of these lands are state-owned and can be revived through investment, says Oleg Dyakov, Head of the Expedition, Senior Researcher Fellow, Center for Regional Studies (Odessa).
The second task of the expedition was to assess the biomass of the Ukrainian part of the Danube region, which can be used as a biofuel, an alternative to coal for heating public facilities, and eventually homes along the Danube.
"The Danube Delta has a great potential in this respect”, said Mykhailo Nesterenko of WWF in Ukraine. "One of the best opportunities comes from reed, which covers most of theDelta area and has a large heating capacity. In addition, waste from the cane construction industry can be used as a biofuel at a minimal cost."
The expedition, which took place from 22 to 31 August, included more than 10 scientists and experts in environmental assessment, water and forest resources, flood protection, biological diversity and others.
The study of the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta took place under the project “Climate proofing of the Danube Delta through integrated land and water management” which aims to assist the adaptation of ecosystems, management and economic infrastructure in the region of the Danube Delta to the possible impact of climate change. The three-year project funded by the EU brings together three countries: Romania, Ukraine and Moldova.
The results of the expedition will be used by an expert group that will put together a development strategy and plan to adapt the region of the Danube Delta to climate change, and will also identify areas for restoration of riparian ecosystems, and potential areas for production of phytomass.