Mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and saltmarshes support rich biodiversity, underpin the livelihoods of more than a billion people worldwide, store carbon and protect from extreme weather events.
More than half of all human habitation on this earth takes place within 80 kilometers of an ocean front.
Mangrove swamps are feeding and nursery grounds for fisheries, and are the habitats of several of the most important commercial species of fish and shrimps that are important sources of protein. This habitat requires protection for ensuring food security.
Wetlands such as mangrove forests, peat swamps and freshwater swamps are not adequately protected. Apart from being important as resting places for migratory birds, in regulating the hydrological regime, and in supporting fisheries, these habitats also support some unique flora and fauna because of their distinctive characteristics at the interface of terrestrial and aquatic systems.
Coastal wetlands are characterized by the daily tidal cycle and intermediate salinity between salt and fresh water. These characteristics are determining factors that place wetlands among the most naturally fertile habitats in the world. A coastal salt marsh floods typically twice a day, while also revolving around a monthly pattern of spring and neap tides. As rivers swell with seasonal rainfall, they flow out over neighbouring plains. The annual cycle of inundation and desiccation of floodplains is one of the most important forces governing wetland productivity. The regularity of the flood pattern is important in maintaining the structure and function of wetlands.
Coastal habitats (mangroves, seagrass systems, coral reefs and lagoons, and estuaries) provide habitat for about 90 percent of the world's fish production, at all or some stages in the lives of the fish. In particular, salt marshes, seagrass beds, and mud flats have enormous biological productivity and are important as nursery grounds for coastal and oceanic marine fish as well as for endemic and migratory birds. Even species not confined to wetlands are dependent on the shelter offered by inaccessible wetlands.
The Danube Delta Biodiversity Project was launched in 1993 by the World Bank and the Ministry of Water, Forestry and Environmental Protection of Romania. The project is concerned with the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve (549,000 ha), which is designated as a Biosphere Reserve, a Ramsar site and a World Heritage site. The overall objective of the project is to support the local organizations in their efforts to develop both the conservation of biodiversity and the integrated management of the Danube delta ecosystem. It is a five-year project that is financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and closely related to two regional GEF projects: the Environmental Programme for the Danube River Basin and the Black Sea Environmental Programme. The project is intended to support the conservation activities of the Danube Delta Reserve Authority (DDRA) and the work of other organizations. Its main aims are: (1) to help put in place the institutional and technical capacity required for DDRA to operate effectively and for effective environmental monitoring; (2) to support an initial pilot programme to restore wetland conditions in abandoned polders and a longer term programme of wetland restoration and the rehabilitation of degraded habitats; and (3) to improve the availability of information for policy-makers. The project is divided into two sub-projects, for the Romanian and Ukrainian parts of the Delta respectively. The Romanian government has initiated and implemented a National Monitoring Plan, which consists of various DDRA monitoring activities, including biodiversity and natural resource exploitation. A list of endangered species will also be drawn up.