The delta of the river Dniester is a unique ecological system along the Black sea coast.
The delta includes freshwater wetlands with numerous river branches, channels, lakes, flooded forests, striking wild flora and fauna, hard-working people and rich agriculture. The Dniester delta is a protected nature area with an international status (Ramsar Convention) and a very important ecological corridor connecting the Black Sea coast and the Dniester river basin.
Location: Ukraine: Odessa Oblast, 30 km south west of Odessa.
Size: Ca. 22 000 ha, plus 40 800 ha freshwater lagoons.
Manager & owner: The delta is owned by the local village councils and managed by Beliaevka Forest Company, under the responsibility of the Odessa Agency of the Forest State Committee of Ukraine.
Actuality: As an internationally important ecosystem the area deserves more attention from the official authorities. Local people generally agree with the need for conservation and good management. The main conservation and restoration work is done by the Natural Heritage Fund and EUCC - The Coastal Union, sponsored by the EECONET Action Fund and the Dutch government
Culture & History
About 15 000 years ago the Dniester delta was still a sea; after the Ice Age the seal level lowered, the sea bottom appeared and the delta started to develop. The name Dniester is derived from "quick river".Due to the marshy character of the area the delta has never been densely populated. Channels were constructed connecting lakes with the river branches. Over the centuries the delta was occupied by different cultures and nationalities. The local people made use of the natural resources for subsistence. So until 1950 human impact upon the delta was negligible. From 1950 to 1982 many forms of human activity began to deplete the extent and the quality of the wetland ecosystem, many dams and roads were constructed. Also, pollution problems started to appear. Between 1982 and 1995 major environmental problems were caused by the construction and operation of a large hydro-electric plant. The critical situation gradually improved after 1988 when natural floods were again allowed to inundate the delta.
Remnants of human occupation
One of the most striking memorials of human occupation are the remnants of a fortress, built in the 14th-15th century AD by Slavonic people near the waters of the Dniester estuary. The use of reed as a roof construction material, and pottery and rod weaving are part of the overall cultural heritage of the region.
Nature & Landscape
The delta is one of the most intact wetland ecosystems along the Black Sea, dominated by extensive reed beds and flooded forest, with rare plant species, nesting colonies of rare and endangered migrating water birds and important populations of rare mammals.
Sea & Beach: The delta runs into the Black Sea through Dniestrovsky lagoon and by a sandy spit.
Sand dunes have originally covered the sandy spit but only on 10 percent has remained. The area supports rare plants as well as typical representatives of the seaside fauna.
In the southern part of the delta impressive flooded forest grows on the banks of the river and its branches.
Many meadows occur in the area. They are very important for interesting birds like Glossy ibis.
Flora & Fauna
The flora of the delta includes over 700 species including many interesting plants such as the White lily. With 150 breeding bird species the area is of particular importance for Glossy ibis, Squacco heron, Great egret, Pelican, White-tailed eagle, Crane, Demoiselle crane, Pygmy cormorant, Red breasted goose, Pelican, Kingfisher, Bittern as well as for Titmouse.
In the village Mayaky there is a small ecological centre where visitors can get relevant information: 42 Rechnaya Street (Hydrological Station), Mayaky, Belyaevskiy region, Odessa oblast.
The island is to be preserved as virgin land with free development for plants and wildlife. Therefore national park rangers guard the area and guide visitors. The island reached this status, because in 1904 a quarry was opened and damaged a lot of the old caves. This development made environmentalists aware that something needed to be done to protect the island.
7620 hectares area of the central part of the delta is a Regional Nature Reserve - "Wetlands of the Dniester delta". The area as a whole is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and a proposed National Park of Ukraine. The most significant problem of the delta is the lack of water access from the river towards the reed beds and meadows. The main road through the Delta (Odessa-Bessarabia) has been built parallel to the river, cutting the wetlands off from the river water. The road is mostly Ukrainian but partly Moldovian. In addition, the connection between the river and the wetlands is also blocked by agricultural developments in Moldova. This has also caused increased flooding of the road and therefore increasing costs of road management. The joint Ukrainian-Moldova water management project supported by the EUCC re-supplied the wetlands with water from the river again. As a result more than 4000 ha of Ukrainian wetlands have been restored in 2000.
Text: Dr. Ivan Rusev, Natural Heritage Fund, Odessa
ZDROJ: The Coastal Guide to Europe, kráceno