Conservation wins in the Danube-Carpathian region in 2018 | WWF
Conservation wins in the Danube-Carpathian region in 2018

Posted on 20 December 2018

As the year draws to a close, we reflect on what we have accomplished
As 2018 draws to a close, we reflect on what we have accomplished for wildlife, nature and people in Central and Eastern Europe in the past 365 days.

We saved Csarna Valley in Hungary,

We won two court cases for Pirin National Park, a World Heritage Site in Bulgaria,

We stood together to protect all sources of Europe’s water,

We improved protection for old growth forests across the Danube-Carpathian region,

We saw more bison return to the Southern Carpathians,

We worked to save sturgeon, the world’s most endangered group of fish.
These achievements would not have been possible without your support.
Thank you for joining us in saving the Green Heart of Europe!

Take a look at our 2018 in review (and scroll down to watch the videos too :) :

Together we saved Csarna Valley!

One of the largest conservation campaigns in Hungarian history saved Csarna Valley – an untouched forest area of 1000 hectares in the Carpathian Mountains. A plan to develop tourist railways in the valley would have dramatically affected the valley’s ecosystems. WWF-Hungary together with more than 70,000 supporters succeeded in preserving the valley and its natural ecosystems for the future generations.

We won two court cases for Pirin National Park

WWF and the other NGOs of the For the Nature coalition won two court cases against the government of Bulgaria’s plans to open Pirin National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Bulgaria’s premier protected area, up to construction. In 2018, tens of thousands of people marched on the streets to #SavePirin, not only in Bulgaria, but in London, Berlin, Oxford, Sydney and other cities worldwide. The final court rulings are expected in 2019.

WWF received three awards for creative campaign for #SavePirin

Together with the creative agency Noble Graphics, WWF received three awards (gold, silver and bronze) at a prestigious annual advertising festival in Bulgaria for the creative camouflage campaign, part of the #SavePirin communication campaign.

100 environmental groups launched a campaign to save the EU water law

A hundred NGOs launched a new campaign calling on the European Commission to defend the EU law that protects all sources of Europe’s water, such as rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and groundwater, during its ongoing evaluation (known as a “fitness check”). The online campaign, called #ProtectWater, is led by WWF, the European Environmental Bureau, European Anglers Alliance, European Rivers Network and Wetlands International, who together form the Living Rivers Europe coalition. Until now 200,000 citizens signed the petition:

People jumped in rivers and lakes across 18 European countries to protect our waters

Thousands of people across Europe jumped into rivers, streams and lakes in more than 160 European ‘Big Jump’ events to show that EU Member States must follow the positive spirit of the EU water law which they committed to.

WWF Living Planet Report 2018:
Nature in steep decline due to human activities

Humanity and the way we feed, fuel and finance our societies and economies is pushing nature and the services that power and sustain us to the brink. WWF’s Living Planet Report 2018 presented a sobering picture of the impact of human activity on the world’s wildlife, forests, oceans, rivers and climate, underlining the rapidly closing window for action and the urgent need for the global community to collectively rethink and redefine how we value, protect and restore nature.

350 cities in Central and Eastern Europe united for Earth Hour 2018

With the official support of over 350 cities across Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine,  thousands of people in Central and Eastern Europe celebrated Earth Hour 2018 and raised awareness on sustainable living. Nearly 850 well-known landmarks and facades of government buildings turned dark to shine a light on climate action.

Largest ever bison reintroduction in Southern Carpathians boosted population by 23 animals

WWF and Rewilding Europe completed a successful reintroduction of 23 European bison at two sites in the Southern Carpathian mountains of Romania. The animals, which were sourced from nine European nature reserves and zoos, were released over the course of several weeks. This reintroduction – the largest ever in the Carpathians – significantly advanced the comeback of this magnificent species and increased the local population to 53.

7 new cubs came to our Bear Orphanage

The time has come for the bear cubs from this year to be transferred to another enclosure in our orphanage. View all stories about them.

Countries adopted an action plan to save Europe’s most endangered fish species

After decades of plummeting numbers due to poaching and habitat loss, Europe’s sturgeon species have been given some much needed hope at last after 50 European countries and the European Union signed up to a detailed continental-wide action plan to save the iconic fisht:

The Danube Delta can now be explored virtually via Google Maps

The Danube Delta of Romania has been mapped and is now available on Street View in Google Maps. The Delta is present with all its beauty, from waterways to lakes and channels covered by vegetation, birds and flora, local architecture, and villages surrounded by water. In total, over 1,500 kilometers of channels and roads are covered.

WWF’s recycled PET boat joined race for a plastic-free Tisza River

Hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers took part in the sixth edition of the nature conservation volunteer event PET Cup, aimed at cleaning up the Tisza River and promote environmental awareness. WWF-Hungary joined the race again with River Panda, our recycled boat. This year a small team from WWF-Ukraine also joined the panda crew.

World’s longest painting of Danube River travelled the region

In an effort to raise awareness and spread the message: “Can you see how amazing nature in and along the Danube is?”, Ana Tudor, an artist living in Serbia, immortalized on a 1km-long linen canvas the unique nature of the Danube River and its endangered plant and animal species:

A new app empowers Romanians to protect their rivers

WWF and ESRI Romania presented a new free interactive online map through which anyone can add information about hydropower plants. Many are constructed in the wrong places and without proper environmental impact assessment and threaten valuable natural areas in the Danube-Carpathian region.

UNESCO asked Slovakia to protect the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians

At its 42nd session in Bahrain, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee approved a decision on the lack of protection of the Slovak part of the Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians site. The World Heritage Committee asked the Slovak government to accelerate the process of refining borders, ensuring legal protection and continuing negotiations with the owners.

Agreement not to touch old growth forests in Slovakia

WWF and civic association PRALES reached an agreement with the state forest enterprise of Slovakia safeguarding unprotected old growth forests in Slovakia. No human intervention will be executed on 2,230 ha of such forests. This was an important step in fulfilling the obligations of Slovakia before the Carpathian Convention.

Ukrainian primeval forests to be protected as “nature monuments”

The Ukrainian Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources officially approved a methodology for the identification and conservation of primeval, old-growth, and natural forests. It is based on criteria of the Carpathian Convention with the help of a document developed by WWF in Ukraine.

Moratorium on logging in Carpathian old growth forests of Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities ordered its administrations in the Carpathian region to stop issuing felling tickets for plots that were identified by WWF as virgin and old growth forests. The total area of identified old growth forest plots under management of the State Forest Management Agency is over 59,000 ha, including 26,000 ha of virgin forests.

WWF launched new research to identify virgin forests in Polissia region of Ukraine

WWF has begun large-scale field research in Polissia, Ukraine, aimed at identifying and preserving vast stretches of Ukraine’s regional virgin forests. According to a preliminary analysis, from 10,000 to 20,000 hectares could be preserved.

New fishing regimes in Ukraine better protect sturgeons

In Ukraine, the fishing regimes for 2018 have been approved to reduce bycatch of highly endangered sturgeons. Industrial and amateur fishing of all wild sturgeon species was permanently banned in the Black Sea basin. Thus, even occasionally caught sturgeons should be released back.

Connecting the Carpathian Mountains

Infrastructure development plans for the Carpathian countries aim to cover the region with a dense web of roads and railways. But the natural richness of the area may get trapped and isolated in this web. To prevent this, the TRANSGREEN project brought together road builders, environmentalists, key experts and decision makers who can influence and improve the way infrastructure is developed.

WWF supported authorities in identifying virgin forests in Romania

In 2018, WWF secured 2,000 hectares and in total identified 35,000 hectares of old-growth forests in Romania. Also, a campaign for recognition of 500,000 hectares of unmanaged forest to be recognised as forests by the Romanian State was launched.

Our Living Forests: A different forest management approach

A successful 3-year-long project aiming to improve the conservation status of Natura 2000 forest sites was carried out for the first time in Hungary creating cooperation among forest owners, forest managers, forest authorities, state and civic conservation actors and local citizens. WWF-Hungary announced the Living Forest Award for private forest managers working in Natura 2000 areas.

Bulgarian National Forest Stewardship Standard (FSC) entered into force

In 2018 the full requirements of the FSC National Forest Stewardship Standard in Bulgaria entered into force. Approximately a third of Bulgarian forests are certified by FSC at present. Bulgaria ranks among the first countries in Europe to successfully secure such a standard.

Life4Oak Forests: Hundred-year-old forests in Hungary

Forests that are older than 150 years are extremely rare to find and they are unique systems of valuable habitats. Our project Life4Oak Forests aims to form microhabitats typical of old-aged forests:

Living in harmony with wolves, bears and lynx in Europe

An outstanding international conference in September 2018, called Pathways, focused on wildlife conflicts in Europe and looked for solutions that are in line with conservation laws. Our continent is densely populated and many people feel threatened by the return of large carnivores such as wolves, bears or lynx. 

Video Messages from the region

Andreas Beckmann, Managing Director, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme​

Irene Lucius, Regional Conservation Director, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme​

Katalin Sipos, Country Director, WWF- Hungary

Orieta Hulea, Country Director, WWF- Romania

Vesselina Kavrakova, Country Director, WWF- Bulgaria

Miroslava Plassmann, Country Director, WWF- Slovakia

Nataliia Gozak, Wildlife Conservation, WWF- Ukraine

Brown bear cub
© Tomas Hulik / WWF
Pirin National Park
Pirin National Park
© Maya Karkalicheva
"Камуфлаж за Пирин" на WWF се открои на авторитетен рекламен фестивал
Key visual for #ProtectWater, square.
The #ProtectWater campaign is led by WWF, EEB, the European Anglers Alliance, European Rivers Network and Wetlands International, who together form the Living Rivers Europe coalition.
© Living Rivers Europe
© Sergio Pitamitz
© Hartmut Jungius / WWF
Natural hydrological processes occuring in the Danube floodplains help cleanse water and reduce high water levels on the mainland.
Natural hydrological processes occuring in the Danube floodplains help cleanse water and reduce high water levels on the mainland.
© WWF DCP Ukraine
World's longest painting of the Danube River
© Balint Bajomi
Râul Topolog - zona înaltă
© Dan Dinu
The virgin forests are home to eight out of ten terrestrial species of plants and animals.
© WWF-Ukraine
Moravsky Svaty green bridge
© Tomas Hulik