Moldova project for Dniester restoration completed


Republic of Moldova completes Ramsar Small Grants Fund project for the Dniester

Moldova accomplished SGF 2000 project "Restoration, Rehabilitation and Implementation of Protective Measures in the Core Wetland Areas in the Dniester River Downstream in Moldova".

The project was submitted to the SGF 2000 cycle and received a grant of 40,000 CHF. Its execution was assigned to the Moldova's Ecological Society "Biotica" - an experienced NGO also having been involved with a GEF/World Bank wetland project for the area of Lower Dniester. The project commenced at the beginning of 2001 and was successfully accomplished by the beginning of 2002. Eleven high-grade experts of Biotica were engaged with project activities as well as a long list of invited contributors.

The project's objective was to identify wetlands in the lower stream of the River Dniester in need for restoration and rehabilitation, and to implement the necessary measures.

The project concentrated its activities on the wetlands in the region near the villages of Purcari, Olanesti and Crocmaz. Besides the task of identification of wetlands in the river floodplain in need of restoration and rehabilitation, another main objective was to elaborate and coordinate with all stakeholders the regulations necessary for restoration and wise use of these wetlands, with prospect of including them as a core and buffer areas in the National Park "Lower Dniester". The latter has to be created in the framework of the GEF/World Bank middle-size project. As a first step towards the National Park is seen the designation of the wetland as a Ramsar site, elaboration of management plans for endangered areas of the buffer zone of the future park, raising public awareness on wise use issues - all tasks of the SGF project in question.

Field work aimed at characterization of the floodplains under agricultural utilization and providing substantial data for elaboration of management plans for them. Over the period from April to July (38 days) cartographic materials were prepared, soil samples were collected (17 soil studies with a depth of 2 m) and a number of chemical examinations were processed.

To determine the geological, geo-morphological and hydro-geological features of the territory 10 trips with length of 30 km were undertaken in 32 days in the region of Aivazia near the villages Purcari and Rascaeti.

Botanical surveys were done in 9 study trips (170 field days) in April-October. Study areas comprised Purcari meanders, sector Togai-Teru, other wetlands of the Lower Dniester where parallel geo-botanical and phytocenological description of plant communities were undertaken. Etalon plant communities for sylvan and meadow territories were determined for the purpose of long-term monitoring.

Terrestrial vertebrate fauna was studied in 170 field days. Total of 560 hours of observations with the length of transects about 600 km were done in the area for identification of present vertebrate fauna and mapping its spatial distribution.

Entomological research comprised 170 field days and led to estimation of insects and other terrestrial invertebrate fauna, their influence on crops and forests in the study area.

Field work allowed project team to obtain valuable data on area itself and its biodiversity that were of great significance for drafting management plan and filling in Ramsar Information Sheet for the prospective wetland of international importance.

Nymphaea alba in Talmaza wetlands (right)

Activities on raising public awareness and consultation of management measures with local stakeholders comprised three highly successful workshops in three different villages within the Lower Dniester area. The first workshop was organized on 10th August 2001 in the village of Talmaza, the largest village in the target region (population 9,500), which belongs to the territory of the biggest core area of the future National Park "Lower Dniester". Audience included representatives of the local Parliament, central environmental and local authorities of the County and villages, local environmental and forestry agencies, academic scientists, farmers and leaders of their associations, teachers and NGOs, participants of the International Environmental Expedition "Eco-Dniester 2001" - all in total 60 people. They were briefed about the project itself and the Ramsar Convention, EC Directive "Natura 2000", main characteristics of the territories, the necessity to elaborate management plans for drained wetlands in conditions of salinization, when they are used for crop plant cultivation, grazing, haymaking, and the best ways of soil sustainable use. Another topic was elaboration of management plans for water protection zones of the River Dniester.

The second workshop took place in the village of Crocmaz on 10th October 2001. Thirty-eight participants, comprising farmers and leaders of farmers associations, NGOs, mayors and councilors of Crocmaz and surrounding villages, representatives of the Ministry of Environment and its local agency, academic community, teachers and doctors were made familiar with the results of redrafting of management plans and briefed by representatives of the NGO "Danish Nature" about the experience with and achievements of the establishment of the Natura 2000 Network in Denmark.

The third workshop was held in the village of Olanesti on 9th November 2001 with the same agenda and presentations like the previous one. The audience of 35 people consisted of farmers, agricultural producers, councilors, mayors and deputy mayors, forestry specialists, teachers, representatives of the academic community, of the central and regional environmental authorities, experts and NGOs.

Besides the workshops the project and its results were much broader publicized through an article in the national newspaper "Nezavisimaya Moldova" (Independent Moldova) on the occasion of the World Wetlands Day 2002:

A special event was organized also for the youths - teachers of two of the target villages expressed their interest in bringing knowledge to students about necessities of wetland protection. To make this initiative alive the NGO "EcoStrategii" together with BIOTICA organized a trip for pupils from the capital (Chisinau) to the village of Crocmaz on 17th October 2001. There they met their counterparts from the village discussing all together nature conservation issues and organizing a conservation theatre performance. The event was announced as Dniester wetlands protection meeting.

Following the workshops with stakeholders and additional consultations and talks with mayors and other local authorities at the end of November 2001 the management plans for natural habitats and water protection zones were presented to the local authorities of the two target villages. They were endorsed by decisions of the local councils (Crocmaz - 13.12.2001 and Olanesti - 14.03.2002). Both management plans were also approved by the Ministry of Ecology, Construction and Territorial Development.

A brochure [left] containing both plans was published in Romanian (with short English summary).

Following up the project outcomes the Ramsar Bureau is in consultation with the authorities in Moldova on designation of the Lower Dniester (60,000 ha) as a Ramsar site. High quality RIS and map have already been reviewed in advance by Bureau staff and official designation is about to be announced soon.

-- reported by Sergei Dereliev, Ramsar.


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