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Last Ditch Delta Defence

A last effort is being made by Ukrainian conservationists to save the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserveā€¦

The intention of the Ukrainian Ministry of Transport to construct a shipping channel through the most sensitive part of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, with its attendant severe and irreversible environmental, natural and economic consequences for the local inhabitants and the valuable flora and fauna resources, appears unstoppable.

Despite court judgements declaring the initial Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the University of Kiev as invalid, and a report by the joint mission of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MaB) of UNESCO and the Ramsar Secretariat to the Danube Biosphere Reserve and Kyliiske Mouth Ramsar Site in October 2003 rejecting the present channel option favoured by the Ministry, there is no sign of a wish to compromise or to discuss the planning in the public domain. On the contrary; the Kiev University team who presented the first, flawed, report have been invited to submit a new one as soon as possible so that dredging of the disputed channel can begin in April 2004. Meanwhile the draft presidential decree, which would exclude all water areas and channels from the delta zone of the Danube Biosphere Reserve, and drastically reduce the area of the specially protected zone, is still on the table.

This is an unacceptable degradation of globally important resources, the effects of which would severely affect the rest of the Danube Delta in neighbouring countries (soon to become members of the European Union), as well as world populations of migrating birds for which the area is one of the most important staging areas in the whole of the Palaearctic region. It is therefore essential that conservationists in the Ukraine and Eastern Europe, who are campaigning incessantly against this threat of irreversible degradation of our common natural resources, are not left alone at this critical stage.

Proact is calling, therefore, for your urgent support for an impartial study to be undertaken without delay, covering not only socio-economic, navigation and geomorphologic aspects, but also the latent effects on the biodiversity of affected species and their natural habitats as recommended by the UNESCO and Ramsar experts. The time available for effective protest is short. The days and hours that remain before permanent damage is done as a result of unilateral action by the Ukrainian Ministry of Transport are few.

PROACT urges all birders to take action now by writing to the Ukrainian President, the EU Commissioners for Enlargement and the Environment, the Rector of Kiev University and any other public or political figure who you think may help.

NB The Russian and Ukrainian campaign site, with draft texts by PROACT, and contact addresses, are at: http://www.seu.ru/projects/eng/dunay/

4th July 2014