Danube Delta: A natural gateway to Europe

Geographical location:

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Romania

Europe/Middle-East > Eastern Europe > Ukraine
Europe/Middle-East > Europe General

Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), foraging for fodder, Danube Delta.
© WWF-Canon / Klaus-Henning GROTH

Summary

The Danube Delta is one of the largest wetlands of the world – a unique habitat of canals, reed beds, lakes and ponds. It is rich in biodiversity and is an important breeding site for several rare and threatened waterbirds, including the dalmatian pelican, great white pelican, white-tailed and greater spotted eagle and pygmy cormorant.

To protect these species and the wetlands, WWF supports the cross-boundary reserve between Ukraine and Romania, and through its restoration projects is committed to saving the biodiversity and ecological value of the Danube Delta.

Background

The Danube Delta lies within political boundaries of Moldova, Romania and Ukraine. It is one of the largest wetlands of the world - a unique habitat of canals, reed beds, lakes, and ponds. Manmade constructions are numerous as well, i.e. flood protection dams, rice fields, ponds, polders, sluices, irrigation systems and other hydraulic constructions.

The Delta’s importance for nature conservation lies in the natural state and processes which still take place at a large scale, resulting in a high richness of its wildlife. The Delta is home to 12 types of habitats, over 1,600 flora species, and over 3,400 fauna species. The Delta is an important site for breeding populations of several rare and imperilled waterbirds, including the Dalmatian pelican, Great white pelican, White-tailed and Greater spotted eagle, Pygmy cormorant, and Collared pratincole.

The Danube Delta has been recognised internationally for its valuable and unique characteristics:
- Designated a RAMSAR wetland of international importance in 1991.
- Added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1991.
- Recognised as a biosphere reserve under UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1992.

In addition, the Delta is designated as one of WWF’s global 200 ecoregions.

Objectives

- Significantly increase the potential of the Delta to continue supporting one of Europe’s richest natural wildernesses.

- Achieve a world model for sustainable delta management and development.

Solution

Restoration work will be scaled up in the Ukraine with 2 new model sites and introduction of a new natural grazing area. 2 new model sites will be implemented in Romania. Local partners and governments will be targeted to support restoration activities in both countries.

In addition, partnership with a local tour provider will be established to support ecotourism ventures. A model lodge will be built in the Romanian Delta to house nature tourists, and support will be given for production of a nature-based tour guide. Last, but not least, a Sustainable Navigation Plan will be developed for the Danube Delta based on expert knowledge. The aim is to have Delta countries contribute to and endorse this plan.

The project includes 3 modules with their respective immediate goals:·

- Module A: By 2009, key natural processes in the Romanian and Ukrainian Danube Delta will be maintained and/or restored on approx. 16,000 ha of land and water systems.

- Module B: By 2009, sustainable tourism has become a major strategy for maintenance of key natural processes, and negative impacts from unsustainable tourism have been displaced in the Danube Delta.

- Module C: By 2009, sustainable alternatives to port development and navigation in the Danube Delta have been presented, serving as a symbol for model transboundary management.

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