New "Ecological Expert Group" launched for Ramsar Management in the Danube River Basin

15/01/2002

New "Ecological Expert Group" launched for Ramsar Management in the Danube River Basin

The Danube River Protection Convention DRPC (Sofia,1994) promotes cooperation for the protection and sustainable use of the Danube River and its tributaries. The hydrological catchment area of the Danube River Basin covers an area of 817.000 km2 in 17 European countries. The Danube is 2857 km long and includes many important natural and nature-near areas, e.g. the Danube Delta - the second largest natural wetland in Europe. Thirteen Danubian states, all of them Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention, as well as the European Union, are Contracting Parties of the DRPC as well and have a vote in the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River ICPDR (see www.icpdr.com). The Ramsar Convention, WWF International, REC - the Regional Environment Center for Central and Eastern Europe serve as observers.

So far, four Expert Groups have been established:

1) AEWPS on accident emergency warning of pollution system
2) EMIS on emission reduction
3) MLIM on monitoring, laboratory and immission control
4) RBM on river basin management.

Upon a resolution made during the 4th Plenary Session of the ICPDR, held between 29 and 30 November 2001 in Vienna, a fifth expert group, the so-called "Ecological Expert Group" ECO/EG, was established after only one year of temporary status. With this decision the ICPDR responded to the requirements of wetland restoration and management within the Danube Basin. The main role of the ECO/EG is to deal with riverine ecosystems with the understanding that the expert group will receive support from Hungary and from WWF International. The overall objective of the EG is to support ICPDR-activities related to the conservation, restoration and sustainable management of the aquatic ecosystems and those terrestrial ecosystems and wetlands directly depending on them.

Key elements for the work of the next two years will be

1. to make an inventory of species and habitats protected areas
2. to enhance implementation of wetland restoration and management within the framework of the Joint Action Plan of the ICPDR

The Ramsar authorities of the Danubian States are invited to support the work of this group in order to achieve the wise use of the Danube river and its wetlands. Contact addresses: icpdr@unvienna.org, gerhard.sigmund@bmu.gv.at, philip.weller@wwf.at.

Danube River Basin

-- reported by Dr Gerhard Sigmund.

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