At the end of a course
of over 2840 km, collecting the water from a vast hydrological basin that exceeds 8% of the area of Europe, the Danube River, the second largest river of the Continent, has been built during the last 16000 years in the whole world.
The Danube Delta, as one of the greatest wetlands of the earth, offers good conditions for an impressive number of plants and animals. Among these, reed beds form one of the largest single expanses in the world, and Letea and Caraoman forests represent the Northen limit for two rare species of oak, that are more frequently met in the south of the Italian and Balkan peninsulas. Together with a great number of aquatic and terrestrial plants, here are also many important colonies of pelicans and cormorants, which are characteristic for the Danube Delta, as well as a variety of other water birds that reside in or the delta for breeding or wintering. The large number of fish is also notable, with species of both high economic and ecological value.
Without doubt, the impressive range of habitants and species which occupy a relatively small area makes the Danube Delta a vital center for biodiversity in Europe, and a natural generic bank with incalculable value for global natural heritage.
Many of the plant and animal species found in the delta are also important natural resources for economic use as food, building materials and medicine. They have attracted people to the area since ancient times. Human dwellings were based on the use of these natural resources thus traditional activities and characteristic cultural and socio-habits developed here.
Later, tendencies to over-exploit some of these natural resources occurred.
These tendencies, still seen at the present time, put increasing pressure on the resources, especially fish and grasslands, and are compounded by the development of economic activities which are not in harmony with the environment; causing the loss of some areas of natural fish spawning grounds through the sedimentation and eutrophication-nutrient enrichment-of water cannels and lakes.
Because of the cumulative negative effects of human activity in the delta, together with those occurring around the delta itself, there is an increasing danger that the natural ecological balance will become irreparably harmed if appropriate measures are not taken to reduce these impacts, to restore already damaged areas, to protect the existing unaffected areas, and to harness local and regional support for these measures.
The factors briefly described above provide arguments for the designations of the Danube Delta Biosphere reserve (DDBR) by the Romanian Government in 1990, a decision then confirmed by the Romanian Parliament through law 82 of 1993. The DDBR possessed all the main features of a biosphere reserve, namely:
it conserves examples of characteristic ecosystems of one of the world's natural area and contains:
-strictly protected core areas
-traditional use areas (i.e. fishing and reed harvesting)
-buffer areas to reduce external impacts
b)it is a land and coastal/marine area in which people are an integral component, and which is managed for objectives ranging from complete protection to intensive yet sustainable production;
c)it is a regional center for monitoring, research, education and training on natural and managed ecosystems;
d)it is a place where government decision makers, scientists, managers and local people cooperate in developing a model program for managing and water to meet human needs while conserving natural process and biological process resources;
e)It serves as a symbol of voluntary cooperation to conserve and use resources for the well being of people every where.
The DDBR has a total area of some 5800 km square and is located between 28 grades 10 min 50 sec e (Cotul Pisicii), 29 grades 42 min 45 sec E (Sulina), 45 grades 27 min N (Chilia branch, km 43) and 44 grades 20 min N (Midia Cape). The 45th parallel that marks the mid-way line between the North Pole and equator actually runs through the reserve. The position has climatic significance which, associated with the humid nature of the area, has a big influence on the migratory path ways of birds. Because of the complexity and the position of the DDBR, a special program with specific objectives and projects for the management of the area is needed. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority (DDBRA) was involved in publishing this specific Management Plan for the Danube Delta.
The international recognition of the Danube delta Biosphere Reserve
The universal value of the Reserve was recognized by the Man and Biosphere Program (MaB), of UNESCO, in August 1990, through its inclusion into the international network of biosphere reserves. This specific UNESCO Program was launched in August 1970.
The DDBR was recognized as an internationally important humid zone, mostly in its capacity as a habitat for the aquatic birds, in September 1990, when Romania became a Party in the Ramsar Convention.
The international value of the DDBR was recognized again in December 1990, when it became party of the Cultural and Natural world Patrimony.
SOURCE : IBIS TOURS BIRD-WATCHING SPECIALISTS