What is at stake

Living River, River of Life

 / ©: Anton Vorauer WWF
One of the channels of the Lower Danube. Some side branches are threatened by planned engineering structures to direct water into the main channel.
© Anton Vorauer WWF
The Danube is Europe's lifeline, connecting and sustaining both people and nature.

The Danube River is the most international river in the world, passing through 10 countries and four national capitals on its 2,857 km journey from the Black Forest in Germany, to the Danube Delta in Romania and Ukraine, finally emptying into the Black Sea. Some 83 million people live in the Danube river basin, which covers some 801,463 km2.

Large sections of the Danube have already been artificially altered, and over 80 percent of the former floodplains have been lost. 

Nevertheless, the Danube still retains many areas with outstanding ecological qualities such as the German section between Straubing and Vilshofen; the famous Wachau region; floodplains of the Central Danube, including astounding Kopacki Rit; the Bulgarian and Romanian islands; and the enormous reed forests and wetland areas in the Danube Delta, an area of global ecological importance. The Danube is host to several unique and beautiful species.

At the same time, the living Danube provides a host of benefits and services that are of critical importance for people, from drinking water, water and flood management to fishing, tourism, rest and recreation.

For centuries the Danube River has been used for navigation. Shippers have learned how to pass through the river's shallow or winding stretches. But now an overkill of the river's transport capacity is planned using old-fashioned engineering methods that threaten to destroy many of the river's other uses and benefits.

Rivers are dynamic systems and they continuously re-shape their bottom and banks, forming a mosaic of deeper sections and shallow stretches, straight courses and turns. Current approaches to inland navigation, on the other hand, seek stable and predictable conditions - something like a water highway, without "bottlenecks," or shallow river stretches.

 / ©: Anton Vorauer
Donau Delta: See im Schilf mit Seerosen.
© Anton Vorauer

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