The Lower Danube


The Lower Danube is one of the last free flowing stretches of river in Europe, including islands with remnants of floodplain forests and many well-preserved wetlands, not to mention the spectacular and globally important Danube Delta.

Below the Iron Gate Gorge and the large dams between Serbia and Romania, the water slows down and sets the beginning of the Lower Danube.  In this section, the river usually has a high right bank and a low left bank fringed by marshes. Before it flows into the Black Sea, the Danube branches into three main arms and a large number of secondary ones, forming the Delta on an area of 6,750 sq km.

Dependent on this living river are not only many of Europe’s greatest natural treasures, but also the 29 million people who live in the Lower Danube area. These people directly benefit from the many services that the river provides - drinking water, flood protection, sources of income and places of rest and recreation.

The hydrological dynamics of the river, its erosion and sedimentation processes and periodic flooding, have determined the formation of numerous islets along the border in Romania and Bulgaria. These islets host rich floodplain ecosystems including natural floodplain forest, sand banks, marshes and natural river channels.

From the original large floodplain area of the Lower Danube, about 72% has been cut off from the river and transformed into fish ponds or drained for agricultural use. Important functions of the floodplains have been reduced and typical habitats no longer exist.

Because of the loss of a large part of the floodplain areas, the remaining areas under influence of river dynamics (between the river banks and the flood protection dike and in particular the islets), the fish ponds and the floodplain lakes have become even more important for flora and fauna. The existing fish ponds and floodplain lakes preserve features of the former floodplain habitats and are important feeding, roosting, staging and breeding areas for many bird species. Pelicans (common and dalmatian) breeding in the Danube Delta use these fish ponds to feed and rest in their migrating route.

In 2000, WWF facilitated an agreement between the governments of Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine to establish a Lower Danube Green Corridor, with close to a million hectares in protected wetland areas and 224,000 hectares of restored floodplains. A decade on, the protection target has been reached – and substantially exceeded –  with some 1,4 million hectares of wetland areas under some form of protection. Approximately 65,000 hectares of former floodplain areas have been restored, with more underway.

The species inventory of both terrestrial and aquatic habitats in the Lower Danube reveals an impressive number of species, many of them globally important, including 906 species of terrestrial plants, 502 species of insects, 10 species of amphibians, 8 species of reptiles, 56 species of fish, 160 species of birds, and 37 species of mammals.


Photo Gallery

Video Gallery

No comments added yet


WWF staff

Occupation: WWF staff
Location: Bulgaria


Edit POI Information

You can edit this Danube + article by adding information - tags, links, photos, videos, content.


Lower Danube | Bulgaria | Romania | Ukraine | Moldova | Lower Danube Green Corridor