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General overview of Beleu Lake and surrounding flooded forest, near Slobozia Mare village. Some 25 year ago this area was covered with water, but Beleu lake shrank because of increased siltation, while native vegetation (mainly willow arboreta) along with unpleasant exotic invasive species (such as cocklebur or ambrosia) invaded the landscape, resulting in lake retreat.

Image credit: Aurel Lozan & Veaceslav Purcic (2018)

The Manta lakes complex near Crihana village (Cahul district) is an area that used to roam with waterfowl and fish communities, but nowadays it is heavily degrading and the original lakes have almost disappeared. It is still used by locals for household needs for water, irrigation, cattle fodder, biomass, and fishing.

Image credit: Aurel Lozan (2020)


Cahul is a district in the south of Moldova, with the city of Cahul being the administrative center of the district. The region borders Ukraine in the south and Romania to the west. It's main river systems are the Prut and the Danube, which form meadows, ponds, natural lakes throughout the flatland areas and hilly plains. 

The Prut River valley, shared between Romania and Republic of Moldova, harbours in its floodplains vast and unique wetland ecosystems that are component part of an important bird migration route in the north to the Danube delta.


Human-induced changes to the river, such as the construction of the upstream Costesti-Stanca dam and to the wetlands, such as stream modification or drainage and the construction of roads for an oil extraction facility, have affected the hydrological and trophic conditions in the Prut wetlands. In addition, the wetlands have been directly affected by overexploitation, unsustainable fishing, and pollution. These major alterations have resulted in serious consequences to local resident’s livelihoods.


Central and local authorities are trying to find approaches how to best address wetland degradation with the aims of mitigating impacts and restoring wetland integrity. Given Prut River’s high conservation status, an NBS approach seems best feasible. The Biosphere Reserve Prutul de Jos (established in 2018) now protects two main natural lakes in the country (i.e., Beleu and Manta). Moldova will contribute with necessary local experiences and knowledge to support practical realization of NbS, and is looking forward to a constructive dialogue with DANUBE4all to optimize details for the planned restoration effort of its key wetland ecosystems, which include the two largest natural lakes in the country.

What are the project’s priorities? 

Priorities are focused around addressing critical degradation challenges facing the wetlands, particularly the hazards to system connectivity due to man-made barriers, fragmentation and high siltation. The active involvement of local stakeholders such as communities, local public administrations, farmers, businesses in the process is hugely important in achieving these aims.


To this end, the project team will assist local stakeholders in defining what needs to be done to revive/restore their landscapes and, eventually, to design a realistic Corporate Biodiversity Management Plan (CBMP) that will sustain their co-existence with the local wetlands they depend upon. 

How will the learnings from DANUBE4all help the project in its river restoration goals? 

Moldova lacks true sedimentologist professionals and the team relies on such expertise. The project will explore the use of purely NbS approaches e.g., through restoring silted up brooks, restoring connectivity and halting erosion in adjacent slopes as well as how local communities can gain benefits from activities such as biomass collection from unwanted arboreta advancement, or future aquaculture projects, for example. All of this needs expert development and support and holistic thinking. 

Everything the project intends to do is with the benefit of citizen and with citizens help - it is vital that the needs of local communities is respected and taken into account. It will be a win-win for local communities to realize the extent and reality of their dependence upon healthy and functional ecosystems - taking care of their wetlands will make their livlihoods much more secure over the longer term. Therefore the involvement and support of a project such as DANUBE4all is much needed and long awaited!

What can citizens do to protect our waters for future generations? 

Local people are very much aware of what their wetlands can bring in a direct and indirect way. However, they still struggle with many problems, ranging from poverty to the impacts of climate change. The project originates from a call from local communities, from local administrations of the villages of Slobozia mare and Valeni to the head of local council of Cahul district. The team did some preliminary research on how locals can be involved and to which extent, and the results led to developing this project, where locals and their nature are at the heart of what we aim to achieve. 

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