On 11 May 2022 the new Danube WILDisland Project was launched in Vienna, Austria. Joined by nine Danube countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Romania, the Slovak Republic and Ukraine, this European Union (LIFE) funded project aims to strengthen cross-border cooperation to conserve more than 900 islands along the Danube Wild Island Habitat Corridor.
The Danube river is a hub for biodiversity, hosting more than 2000 plant and 5000 animal species living in or by Danube waters. Due to its extraordinary ecological importance, more than 40 Wetlands of International Importance, or Ramsar Sites, have been designated along the Danube to date, from southern Germany downstream to the large river delta on the Black Sea coast shared between Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.
The new LIFE WILDisland project recognizes the extraordinary ecological importance of Danube island sites, with 147 characterized as untouched and pristine in state, hosting valuable habitats for unique plant and animal species. The statement signed by the nine joining countries to mark the launch highlights the importance of cooperation across borders. They stress that transnational conservation projects of this kind are critical to strengthening the Danube river as an ecological corridor which provides ecosystem services such as biodiversity, water, energy, a waterway and socio-economic goods and services to 79 million people.
Recognizing the project’s contributions to the Convention on Wetlands, the project countries have agreed to jointly pursue development of a Danube Wild Island Ramsar Regional Initiative across the DanubeParks network of protected areas and Ramsar Site managers. This initiative would provide a platform to support Contracting Parties to cooperate and build capacity to protect, wisely use and restore Danube wetlands.