Promising start of the Ramsar Regional Initiative for the Black Sea coastal wetlands


In 1994, the International Waterfowl and Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB), published a first “Action Plan for Black Sea Wetlands”. As a follow up, in autumn 2000, local and international experts assessed at two workshops in Odesa (Ukraine) the evolution of the situation of the 80 or so identified wetland ecosystems along the Black Sea coast, focusing on their conservation, restoration and wise-use and on water and natural resources management issues. The workshops closed two international projects coordinated by Wetlands International, Tour du Valat Foundation (as part of the Mediterranean Wetlands Initiative) and Eurosite, with financial support from the Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries, the Danone Group and the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM). However, despite this long-standing and increasing awareness of the problems of the wetland ecosystems around the Black Sea coast, human-induced pressures on these coastal ecosystems have increased ever since.

Thus, Wetlands International sought renewed support from the Dutch Ministry and compiled over the past few years, with substantial input by local stakeholders “A Vision of a new Ramsar regional initiative for Black Sea coastal wetlands” and a “Portfolio of Actions for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Black Sea Coastal Wetlands”. Two baseline reports that you can download from This work resulted in the formal recognition (by Standing Committee) of the new “BlackSeaWet Initiative”, as one of the Regional Initiatives operating within the framework of the Ramsar Convention during the period 2009-2012. Romania agreed to take the lead to coordinate this initiative with unfailing support by the Black Sea office of Wetlands International in Kyiv.

On 16-17 February 2010, a first meeting of the newly established “management body” of the Initiative was convened in Tulcea, at the edge of the Danube Delta Ramsar site. About twenty participants from the Black Sea countries made their way through snow storms to the harbour town at the shores of the Danube, where they successfully finalized and adopted terms of reference for their Initiative, clarifying its mission, vision, strategic targets and operational objectives. They established a governance structure, composed of the management body (representing all involved countries with a governmental and a NGO representative, the Black Sea Commission and Ramsar Convention Secretariats, as well as Ramsar’s IOPs active in the region: WWF, Wetlands and BirdLife International, IUCN), a coordination unit (currently hosted by the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority) and national working groups (to be established in Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine), and clarified the roles and responsibilities of these three bodies. They also adopted a Working Plan 2010, that includes a substantial number of CEPA activities, with the celebration of Black Sea wetland days on 2nd February (World Wetlands Day) and 31st October (Black Sea Day). The participants agreed to meet again in the first half of October 2010, possibly in the Danube Delta, in order to assess progress of their work and plan their activities for 2011-2015.

They also agreed to contact the new international wetland monitoring programme, i.e. the Mediterranean Wetlands Observatory under development by Tour du Valat, to evaluate if this could usefully be extended to the Black Sea coastal region? And the upcoming 41st meeting of Standing Committee, to be held at the shores of the Black Sea in Kobuleti, Georgia, will provide the BlackSeaWet actors with a unique opportunity to show their colleagues from around the world the impressive work underway along the Black Sea Coast.

View over the wintery Danube, in Tulcea

Dr Grigore Baboianu, Governor of the Danube Delta and Chair of the Black Sea Coastal Wetlands Initiative, explains to Serif Hizli, the Ramsar Administrative Authority in Turkey, the traditional way to cook a typical fish soup in the public exhibit of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority building.

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