Restored floodplain areas would have limited flooding on Lower Danube | WWF

Restored floodplain areas would have limited flooding on Lower Danube

Posted on 27 June 2006
Danube floodwaters in a park from the town of Calarasi, Romania
© Alexandru Tanasie
Vienna/Brussels – Today, the Environment Ministers of the European Union Member States should reach political agreement on a draft directive on the assessment and management of flood risks at their meeting in Luxembourg. WWF is calling on the governments of the European Union Member States as well as governments of accession countries (Bulgaria and Romania) to restore floodplain areas as a complementary form of flood risk management, in addition to traditional flood management measures, which are still necessary to protect human settlements.

According to a new WWF study on the recent Lower Danube floods in spring 2006, the flood level would have been lowered by 0.3-0.5 meters if certain floodplain areas had been restored. Four case studies in Romania show that restoring approximately 98,000 ha of floodplain areas would increase flood retention capacity to 1.6 billion m3, eight times more than the current potential.

The 100-year flood event on the lower Danube this spring caused suffering and even loss of life: 10 people were killed and ca. 30.000 people displaced; damage was estimated at more than half a billion Euro. In Romania alone, agricultural polders, which provide livelihoods for local people, were heavily impacted during the floods: an area of 70.000 ha was flooded affecting 10.000 people.

Flood peaks reached very high levels due to the reduced discharge capacities of the floodplains. Restoring floodplain areas along the middle and lower stretches of the Danube River will yield multiple benefits not only in terms of enhanced flood protection, but also for local livelihoods. Restored floodplains in the four Romanian case studies alone would generate more than 3.5 million Euro per year in terms of economic and ecological benefits. The so-called “Lower Danube Green Corridor” is an initiative that aims to protect and restore precisely such areas in Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine, who all signed the agreement in 2000.

“Restoration and preservation of floodplains must be a key component of the EU flood risk management directive. For Bulgaria and Romania this is a unique opportunity to implement state-of-the-art ecologically-sustainable flood mitigation measures and illustrate their effectiveness and added-value,” says Dr. Christine Bratrich, Freshwater Team Leader for the WWF International Danube-Carpathian Programme. “Governments and decision makers have to work with nature, not against it. The governments of the two acceding countries have a real opportunity to set a landmark in environmentally sound flood protection,” says Bratrich.

Notes to editors:
• A study published by WWF called “2006 Floods in the Danube River Basin” is a working paper on the potential of floodplain protection and restoration to support flood risk mitigation for people living along the Danube and its major tributaries. The study’s aim is to review the recent 2006 flood disasters along the Danube and selected and to produce a first overview about the physical restoration potential in four case studies along the Lower Danube Green Corridor (LDGC). The study can be obtained from the WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme (

Further information:
Dr. Christine Bratrich – Freshwater Team Leader, WWF Danube-Carpathian Programme, Tel: +43 1 524 54 70-19, email:  
Sergiy Moroz – WWF Global Freshwater Programme/WWF European Policy Office (EPO), 1040 Brussels, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 7400923, e-mail: