Danube Delta

More info

Danube Delta

More info

Europe’s unrivalled wetland

The massive productivity of the many water habitats here has led to the delta harbouring the largest number of fish species anywhere in Europe. Flagship species of which of course are the four species of sturgeon, which once used to wander the entire length of the Danube river all the way up into Germany. The sturgeons have been critically endangered for decades, but fishing bans and reintroductions are now possibly slowly making a difference.

As in many other areas of Europe, traditional farming based on livestock has become unprofitable. The fishing-farming communities here are amongst Europe’s poorest and they are looking for new, alternative sources of income for modern times. Tourism is already reasonably developed in parts of the delta, with several local tour operators, a growing capacity and infrastructure located in the regional hub Tulcea, and relatively good standards of accommodation increasingly provided within and on the periphery of the delta. With a very rich history dating from ancient times to the present day, the delta and its surroundings offer a multitude of historical remains from Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. The “wilderness” concept has an interesting potential of further profiling the Danube Delta both within Romania, Ukraine and abroad. Here lies the need to better involve the local communities and authorities in the process and its associated economic opportunities.

Rewilding setting

The Danube Delta, on the border between Romania and Ukraine, is outstanding in Europe due to its size (over 500,000 ha), intact river dynamics, unexploited coastline (shaped by the Danube River and the Black Sea), wide horizons and large-scale landscapes without significant infrastructure.

It also has the largest reed beds in the world, in addition to millions of nesting and migrating birds, some of them rare or even globally endangered.

The unique Letea Forest woodland savannah on the Romanian side, is one of very few “primeval” woodlands of the country, with trees up to 700 years of age. Its mosaic-woodland savannah habitat is unique in Europe, created by many centuries of grazing from wild-living, large herbivores together with climate and soil conditions. The Letea area is, together with the Caraorman area, perhaps two of the rarest remaining naturally half-open habitats of our continent. Quite possibly, large areas of Europe once upon a time looked something similar.

Through the designation as UNESCO Biosphere Reserves by both the Romanian and Ukrainian governments, with strictly protected core areas, the delta enjoys a relatively high level of protection. Buffer and economic zones around these also provide opportunities for local developments without jeopardizing the natural values.

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