The Danube Delta
Lies on the coast of the Black Sea in the eastern part of the country in Tulcea County, and encompasses the area between the branch rivers Chilia, Sulina and Sfintu Gheorghe, the former creating the boundary between Romania and the Ukrainian SSR. The site also includes the Razelm-Sinoie complex of lakes Razelm, Sinoie, Zmeica and Golovita to the immediate south of the delta. 44° 25’-45° 28’N, 29° 42’-28° 45’E
DATE AND HISTORY OF ESTABLISHMENT
In 1938 the Council of Ministers passed Decision No 645 declaring ’Letea Forest’ as a nature reserve. In 1961 it passed Decision No 891 declaring Rosca-Buhaiova (14,600ha), St George-Perisor -Zatoane (16,400ha), Periteasca-Gura Portitei (3,900ha) and Popina Island (98ha) as nature reserves. In 1971 the Management of Forestry declared the Caraorman Forest (840ha) and Erenciuc Forest (41ha). In 1975 the Council of Ministers passed the Decision No. 524 extending the Danube Delta protected areas to cover 41,500ha. In 1979, an area of 18,145ha combining Rosca-Buhaiova Reserve and Letea Forest was internationally designated as Rosca-Letea Biosphere Reserve.
An area of 500,000ha including all previous designations was declared a biosphere reserve under National Decree No. 983 with supporting Articles 5, and 6 on 27 August 1990. Further legislation is under preparation. This area was further enlarged in early 1991 to cover 547,000ha and was also declared a national biosphere reserve.
The latest legislation gives patrimony of the biosphere reserve to the Delta Authority. Decree 264/91 passed on 12 April 1991 places all institute, agency and inspectorate staff under the administration of the biosphere reserve. The environment agency for Tulcea Judet is also subordinate. All public domain and aquatic and natural resources generated are the ownership of the biosphere reserve authority. Further legislation will significantly strengthen the administration of the site. Danube Delta was designated a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1991, inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991 and internationally recognised as a Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere Programme in 1992.
679,222ha, including 103,000ha marine. The entire delta region comprises 799,000ha of which 679,000ha are in Romania and 120,000ha in the Ukrainian SSR. The Razelm-Sinoie lagoon complex adds a further 88,000ha. The exact boundary of the site put forward for nomination has been altered to exclude less natural areas such as the Pardina polder and the fish ponds in the south-west
ALTITUDE Sea-level to 15m
The origin of the Delta can be traced to the Ice Age. The present geomorphological form has evolved in historical times. The northern part of the Delta is slowly sinking, resulting in measurable water flow increase in the Chilia arm of the Danube. Only 9% of the area is permanently above water (EEN, 1990). The Delta is extensive in European terms (some 12 times the size of Cota Donana Reserve on the Guadalquivir Delta, Spain) with numerous freshwater lakes interconnected by narrow channels with huge expanses of aquatic vegetation. The Razelm-Sinoie complex to the south consists of several large brackish lagoons separated from the sea by a sandbar (Grimmett and Jones, 1989). Every year thousands of tons of alluvial deposits are carried into the Delta by the Danube resulting in a constant reshaping of the river banks and sandbars.
The overall basic hydrological and ecological systems of the Delta, although strongly degraded, are considered intact. Rosca-Buhaiova-Hrecisca Nature Reserve (part of Rosca-Letea Biosphere Reserve) is considered almost unaltered by man due to the shallow water level making access almost impossible. Perisor-Zatoane-Sacalin Nature Reserve is a mosaic of lakes and ponds and reedbeds with parallel strips of sand dunes (’grinduri’). Sacalin Island is made up of alluvial deposits with sand dunes and Tamarix.
The Delta has been classified into 12 habitat types as follows: aquatic habitats - lakes (0.80m - 2.50m depth) covered with flooded reedbeds; ’plaur’ - flooded islets; flooded reeds and willows; riverine forest of willows and poplars; cane-fields; sandy and muddy beaches; wet meadows; dry meadows (arid); human settlements; sandy and rocky areas; steep banks; and forests on high ground (Ciochia, n.d.).