Danube Regional Project meets, Tulcea, April 2007

04/05/2007

The closing workshop of the UNDP/GEF Danube Regional Project (DRP), which took place from the 18th-20th April 2007 in Tulcea, in the Romanian section of the Danube Delta, was the occasion for many stakeholders to get together and discuss their achievements over the course of this five-year project.

Since 2002, the DRP has engaged in several activities, some of which were presented during the workshop, including the final stages of a guidance document on the role of wetlands in nutrient retention; activities related to the development and implementation of wetland-friendly policies on land-use; and a small grants programme, which funded numerous pilot projects. Several presentations illustrated the successful restoration and rehabilitation projects which were carried out throughout the Danube basin, some of which were focused on flood retention or nutrient management activities, others on awareness raising, capacity building and policy change.

It was inspiring to see how a large, multi-million dollar project, has ramified into a flurry of activities on the ground, which committed and passionate individuals were introducing during the workshop, sharing their knowledge, mistakes and lessons learned.

The Ramsar Secretariat discussed the Convention's increasing interest in water and river basin management, and used the opportunity to share the current work being undertaken by Ramsar's Scientific and Technical Review Panel on the inclusion of wetland management into river basin management. This was quite relevant to the overall objectives of the workshop, as during a productive breakout session, participants were asked to contribute to the vision of the River Basin Management Plan for the Danube and suggest specific ways in which wetlands could be included in this. This is to be prepared as part of the obligations under the Water Framework Directive, which the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR) is responsible for coordinating for the whole basin.

A second group, in the meantime, under the leadership of the Austrian Donauauen National Park, successfully discussed and finalized the development of a Network of Protected Areas (most of them Ramsar sites) along the Danube River. The declaration which resulted can be seen here and the invitation to have additional protected areas joining the network is open!

The last afternoon was dedicated to an interesting, but quite fresh (!), boat trip along the branches of the Danube delta, observing fishermen, birds and the variety of habitat types, ranging from reed-beds, to open water, forest corridors, grasslands, etc. This provided a chance to have informal discussions among the close to 50 participants, which comprised coordinators of some of the different DRP components, Ramsar site managers and focal points, members of international organizations such as the Convention's International Organization Partners, researchers and NGOs. It also gave us a last chance to enjoy the delicious culinary specialties from the Danube delta, many of which depend on sound management of the river.

-- Lucia Scodanibbio, Ramsar

Ivan Koubek, Monika Supekova, and Jan Kadlecik

Lucia Scodanibbio and Steve de Mora

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