Bulldozers bring life to the Danube Delta
The 3,500 ha island, which was once home to Cossack warriors, is one of the larger islands in the Ukrainian Danube Delta. Dikes were erected and the island drained in the 1970s to make way for agriculture. The agricultural experiment proved unsuccessful, and the once-lush wetland area turned barren.
Removal of the dike will make way for annual spring flooding, which will return water and life to the island's interior. The barren fields that now mark much of the island will become flooded, creating lakes that will provide rich feeding, breeding and spawning areas for fish, flora and fauna.
In the past, before erection of the dikes, at least three pairs of white-tailed eagles that nested on the island. There were numerous cormorants, ducks and waders.
Their return could attract tourists, including bird watchers from around the world. WWF is now working with the concessionaire of the island to investigate possibilities for developing ecotourism in the area. The smaller Tataru Island, which was restored several years ago, is now a favored spot for anglers.
The removal of the dike follows on the conclusion of an agreement between WWF, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, the Kilja district administration and concessionaire to restore the former wetlands of Ermakov Island that was signed on August 13, 2008.
The restoration project contributes to realisation of a vision for the protection and restoration of the Danube Delta in Ukraine that was developed by WWF in cooperation with relevant Ukrainian authorities, including the Odessa regional government and water management authority.
Also part of the vision, the former wetland areas of Tataru Island were restored by WWF and partnes in 2003. Efforts are also underway to remove a dike and reconnect Lake Katlabuh (ca 10,000 ha) with the Danube river system. WWF is involved in similar efforts to restore former wetland areas in the much larger Romanian part of the Danube Delta as well.
Katya Kurakina, Communications Officer, WWF Odessa Project Office