The unique ecosystems of the Danube Delta consists of a labyrinthine network of river channels, shallow bays and hundreds of lakes. Interspersed with extensive marshes, reed-beds, islands and floodplains, it forms a valuable natural buffer zone, filtering out pollutants from the River Danube, and helping to improve water quality in the vulnerable waters of the north-western Black Sea.
Ecological changes in the Delta itself have reduced biodiversity, altered natural flow and sedimentation patterns, and diminished the ability of the delta to retain nutrients. This comes as a result of the creation of a network of canals through the delta to improve access and water circulation, as well as the reduction of the wetland area by the construction of agricultural polders and fishponds. Moreover, the nutrient-rich waters are now washed directly through the main canals rather than being distributed through the wetlands and reed beds.
Did you know?
- Most of the delta lies within Romania, but some of its northern fringes and most recently formed areas are in Ukraine.
- A total area of 679,000 ha of the delta is under legal protection including floodplains and marine areas. The core of the reserve (312,400 ha) was designated as a “World Natural Heritage Site” in 1991.
ICPDR Danube Watch: Work resumes on Bystroe Canal
Moldova is one of the smaller countries of the Danube River Basin, but the Danube touches the southern point of Moldova for about 340 meters. Picturesque Moldova holds over 12,500km² of the Danube River Basin, including 8,300km² of the Prut River Sub-Basin, 3,300km² of the Yalpugh River Sub-Basin and 900km² of the Cahul River Sub-Basin.
The Danube is very significant to Romania, since the country is located almost entirely within the Danube River Basin. The Romanian section covers almost a third of the surface area of the Basin, and over a third of the river’s length flows through the country. Crucially, the Romanian (and also Ukrainian) Danube is the end carrier of all wastewater discharges into the Black Sea.
Three sub-basins of the Danube are partly located in Ukraine – the Tisza, Prut and Siret Basins, as well as part of the Danube Delta. Nearly 3 million people live in the Ukrainian share of the Danube River Basin, which is more than 3% of the total population in the basin.
On 26-28 Feb 2006 an international conference on the Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Danube Delta took place in Odessa, Ukraine, under the aegis of UNESCO and ICPDR. The aim of the conference was to generate a vision for the conservation and sustainable develoment of the Danube Delta.
ICPDR Danube Watch: Danube Day 2006: River of Life
Historically, the Danube and some of its tributaries have formed important trade routes across Europe. The harnessing of these rivers to facilitate navigation has radically changed their physical and ecological characteristics, while pollution from ships and boats is also a problem. In order to address this problem, the ICPDR is undertaking various activities.