Reconnecting the Danube

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Bulgaria

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Hungary
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Moldova
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Romania
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Serbia
Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Ukraine
Europe/Middle-East > Europe General
Europe/Middle-East > West Central Europe > Austria
Europe/Middle-East > West Central Europe > Germany

Fishing boats on a swamp. Danube river, Portile de Fier nature park. Romania.
© WWF-Canon / Michel GUNTHER

Summary

The Danube River is one of Europe’s largest rivers, flowing over 2,857km from Germany’s Black Forest to the Romanian and Ukrainian shores of the Black Sea. Rich in fish and other species, the river is increasing threatened by pollution from agriculture and industry.

WWF is working to conserve and protect the Danube through a network of protected areas that reconnects the river to important floodplains and strengthens community fisheries, particularly restoration of sturgeon migration.

Background

The Danube is also the very lifeline of Europe. Despite many man-made changes and technological impacts, the Danube still retains much of its outstanding ecological qualities. WWF considers particularly the lower part of the Danube including its delta as one of the Earth’s 200 most valuable ecoregions with a unique biodiversity, great potential for ecological improvements and additional socio-economic benefits.

The Danube is home to a unique mix of species, with about 2,000 vascular plants and more than 5,000 animal species, including 41 mammals, 180 breeding birds, 8 reptiles, 90 freshwater molluscs, and over 30 amphibian species. The Danube is one of Europe’s richest rivers in terms of fish, home to 103 fish species including 7 fish species that are found nowhere else in the world. Of 330 species of birds that make their home on the Danube, 223 are mentioned on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, strictly protected under the Bern Convention, including e.g. 70% of the world’s populations of white pelicans and 60% of the world’s pygmy cormorants.

The rich ecological value of the Danube, in particular the value of the lower Danube, is reflected in the designation of protected areas, including the Lower Danube Green Corridor (LDGC), 2 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage sites, more than 50 protected areas of international importance, 11 Ramsar sites and many other areas protected under the Bonn, Bern, and Bucharest Conventions as well as under European and national laws.

Objectives

Global objective

Reconnect the lifeline, including people, habitats and species.

Specific objectives

1. Strengthen protection and management of the Danube’s greatest natural jewels by creating and strengthening a Danube network of protected areas.

2. Demonstrate the benefits of reconnecting the Danube floodplains and side arms to the main river system.

3. Support restoration of sturgeon migration up and down the Danube and engage fishing communities to revive the fisheries.

4. Promote and support good river basin management through exchange of best practice at different levels across the Danube river
basin.

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