Inside Europe | 22.08.2006
Romania: The Fragile Danube Delta is Under Increasing Threat
The Danube Delta is one of Romania's national treasures
Tourism increasingly threatens the Delta
While the traditional inhabitants are well integrated into this fragile ecosystem, newer arrivals sometimes are not. The jumping off place for the Danube Delta is the city of Tulcea, with a population of some 92,000. It's here where more and more people are coming to experience the region and that has some people worried.
Orieta Hulea from the environmental group WWF coordinates its lower Danube green corridor project. She says the Danube Delta is a very important tourism resource for Romania and will be developed in the future.
"The point is how can we be sure that we will still have the natural values of the Delta together with the development," Hulea says. "This is the crucial point to keep the balance between development and nature conservation."
Pollution needs to be kept in check
The Danube Delta has survived several ill-advised projects. During the communist era, Romania's dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, although he was a hunter and fisherman, thought the Delta was "too wild" and needed to be tamed. His regime drained swamps, marshes and lakes and transformed the areas into agricultural fields. The government forced traditional fishermen to become farmers. It proved disastrous for the people and for the environment.
As Mother Nature often does, the Delta is bouncing back. After communism fell, the drained areas were re-flooded and have begun coming back to life.
"This is a lesson that we should learn something from," Doroshenku says. "In the future, this will not happen again."
But some things scientists or the government can't control -- such as the pollution that flows into the Delta. Many of the impurities that enter the river from its source in Germany and along its meandering route through eastern Europe end up in the Delta. It acts as a giant filter of sorts, cleaning the water before it enters the Black Sea. But if pollution levels climb, it could have an effect on the wildlife that depends on the Delta for its very existence.
Pollution must be kept down in the Delta
Still, researchers are cautiously optimistic that the Danube Delta has a healthy future ahead of it, if politicians maintain and enforce laws that protect it. Structural funds from the European Union once Romania becomes a member state could also help, says Hulea. To her, the Danube Delta is one of Romania's natural treasures, one of the few places left in Europe where one lose oneself in the pure majesty of the natural world.
"I can tell you that it's the most magnificent place on earth," Hulea says. "You are amazed from the first step. You feel the power of the nature around."
Something as special as that, she says, deserves to be preserved for future generations.
this text is an extract from http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,2144,2143418,00.html