of the Forum of the NGOs from the Danube River Basin
"LET'S SAVE THE DANUBE BIOSPHERE RESERVE"
approved 6 October 2004
We, the representatives of NGOs from 7 European countries, have concluded the
RECOGNISING the efforts of the Ukrainian Government to promote the socio-economic
development of the Danube region and to increase the well-being of its people by
revitalizing the shipping on the Danube;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT the high internatioinal status of the Danube Delta as one of the
most important European wetlands, part of the UNESCO "Danube Delta" Biosphere
Reserve, the biggest reedbed complex in the world, Ramsar Wetland Site of
International Importance, and one of the 200 Global ecoregions selected by WWF;
TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION the value of the natural complexes on the territory of
Bystre Gyrlo as an indispensable part of the UNESCO "Danube Delta" Biosphere Reserve
and Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance;
RECOGNISING that the option of the canal via Gyrlo Bystre is economically
unjustified, environmentally damaging, and chosen without comprehensive consideration
of other alternatives;
ADMITTING the lack of public participation and consequent breach of Aarhus Convention
and relevant national legislation by official bodies of Ukraine, Beneficiary of the
project, and project developers;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that the transboundary effects were not considered;
RECOGNISING that the withdrawal of all waterbodies and waterways from the Danube
Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance on initiative of
the Ministry of Transport is an unprecedented occurrence both for the Ukrainian and
CONSIDERING that the lack of constructive cooperation between Romania and Ukraine as
well as other affected countries concerning the development of the navigation has led
to negative transboundary impacts on the hydrology of the river, limited the
information exchange, prevented reaching agreement on location of the territory where
the dredged silt and clay are deposited, and on methods to assess the damage of the
The Forum has stated the following:
1. The environmental NGOs have never opposed and are not opposing the
revitalizing of the shipping in the Ukrainian part of the Delta. However, the way the
currently constructed option has been selected and the option itself cause very
2. The construction of the shipping canal via Bystre Gyrlo has been carried out
in environmentally unsound manner, with the breach of the technological processes
contained in the project proposal:
* The dredging works have been carried out during the spawning period;
* During the dredging the double transportation of the excavated silt and clay
took place when it has been temporarily deposited in the coastal 5km zone.
3. As a result of these breaches and barbaric and rushed manner of the
construction as well as due to the natural sensitivity of the delta ecosystem, the
realization of this project has led to:
* the death of 2 nesting bird colonies of common (120 nests) and sandwich (950
and 430 nests) terns on the Ptashina Spit;
* further formation of a mineral deposits in Vostochne Gyrlo southward of the
* damaging the natural complexes of the Yermakov Island while depositing the
dredged silt and clay on it.
4. While constructing the shipping canal via Bystre the complex environmental
monitoring was lacking, as a result it is impossible to assess the indirect global
consequences from this project and in particular the re-distribution of the water
discharge and the consequential processes as well as to assess the environmental
impact of this project.
5. By implementing this project, Ukraine has breached national legisaltion of
Ukraine and a number of international conventions ratified by Ukraine (Ramsar
Convention, UNESCO Convention, Bern and Bonn Conventions, Aarhus and Espoo
Conventions, Danube Convention and Agreement on African-Eurasian migratory waterbeird
species, European Landscape Convention).
6. The State Ecological Expertise of the technical documentation and
consequently of this project are not scientifically grounded, do not take public
opinion into consideration and are not objective. The process of ecological expertisa
didn't follow the requirements of Espoo Convention.
7. While making a decision to implement a project via Bystre Gyrlo there was no
comprehensive analyses of the alternatives and the recommendations of the
international experts of UNESCO and Ramsar were ignored
8. During the whole process, since 2001 until present, the real facts and data
concerning the environmental and economic content of the project have been often
misrepresented and falsified. The public was constantly misinformed by massive
campaigns in mass media.
The change of protective status of the Bystre Branch from the core zone of the
Biosphere Reserve into anthropogenic landscapes zone has been done without any
scientific considerations due to transportation needs. The Forum would like to inform
that at the moment the Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute on Ecology is
developing proposal on new zonation of the Danube Biosphere Reserve. As a result of
this, additional territories will be downgraded from the core zone status into the
anthropological landscape zone including the banks of the Potapivske and
Starostambuske Branches without any scientific justification. The participants of the
Forum consider such changes to be unacceptable and to break the international
commitments of Ukraine and will lead to the degradation of the natural complexes of
the Danube Biosphere Reserve.
The participants of the Forum consider unacceptable the pressure, constant checks,
inspections and prosecution of the Director of the Biosphere Reserve
A.N.Voloshkevitch, on the instigations of the State Enterprise Delta Lotsman.
The Forum would like to bring to your attention that the situation with the Danube
Biosphere Reserve reflects the situation in Ukraine and shows the real attitude of
the Ukrainian officials to the nature reserves.
The Danube Biosphere Resrve is not the only one that is being destroyed because of
the commercial interests, it just happens to be the most famous one among many
Taking into account the above mentioned the Forum CALLS UPON :
1. To stop the development and construction of the canal via Bystre Gyrlo until
a transboundary impact assessment by international organizations has been carried
2. To suggest to the European Commission considering system of sanctions to the
Government of Ukraine because of the construction of the shipping canal Danube Black
Sea via Bystre Gyrlo.
3. To recognize the breach by the Government of Ukraine of the International
Conventions by implementing this project.
4. To compensate the damage caused to the natural complexes of the Danube
Biosphere Reserve as a result of the construction and current operation of the
shipping canal via Bystre Gyrlo.
5. To call upon the European Commission to assist the Government of Ukraine to
develop methodology to assess the environmental impact on the protected territories
(In particular methods to assess the negative impact on water birds).
6. To call upon the European Commission to assist the Government of Ukraine with
development of the alternatives for the shipping canal Danube - Black Sea.
7. To call upon the European Commission to assist the Government of Ukraine with
assessment of the results of the monitoring of the negative impacts as a result of
the construction of the shipping canal (carried out by Chernomorniiproekt) and
Proposal on organization of the territories and protection of the natural complexes
of the Danube Biosphere Reserve (being developed by the Ukrainian Scintific Research
Institute of Ecology). International organizations should be involved.
8. To cancel the present zonation of the Danube Biosphere Reserve and approve
the zonation prescribed by the initial Presidential Decree on Establishment of the
Danube Biosphere Reserve. To introduce a moratorium on futher changes in zonation of
the Danube Biosphere Reserve.
9. To involve and seek approval of the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine in all
cases concerning the Danube Biosphere Reserve issues.
10. To encourage a more active use of the existing structures (eg Danube
Euroregion etc.) to assess and mitigate the anthropogenic impacts on the ecosystem of
the Danube and to secure the sustainable development of the region.
11. To stop criminal prosecution against the Director of the Danube Biosphere
Reserve A.N.Voloshkevitch and the constant inspections of the the Reserve.
12. To carry out international ecological monitoring of the present state of the
nature reserves and national parks of Ukraine.
13. To ask WWF to consider the Director of the Reserve A.N Voloshkevitch for WWF
award for conservation merit.
MISREPRESENTATION OF SEVERAL FACTS RELATED TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CANAL BY THE
GOVERNMENT OF UKRAINE
In response to the negative reaction of the Ukrainian and international NGOs and
individuals, Ukrainian officials have started an information campaign about the
project that is not always true:
1) It has been stated on several occasions that it is not the new canal that is
being constructed via the Bystre Gyrlo but merely a restoration of the old one. This
is not true. There has never been commercial shipping in the Bystre Gyrlo. The only
vessels that ever sailed along Bystre were fishing boats with the up to 1,5 - 2,0 m;
2) It has also been stated that the opposition to the construction of the canal
via Bystre breach the right of Ukraine to revitalize the shipping on its soveregn
territory. And again this statement is not true, as the canal via Bystre is the the
only possible option and there are alternatives that make economic and environmental
sense: options via Zhebriyanska Bay or Ochakiv Branch;
3) It has been stated that the shipping canal via Bystre does not have an impact
on ecological balance of the delta and has no damaging effects. Not true because as
the result of construction the colony of terns died and the water discharge in the
Kiliya branch has already altered;
4) It has been stated that the construction of the sluice canal through the
Zhebriyanskaya Bay cannot be implemented without explaining any reasons;
5) It has been stated that the core zone of the Danube Biosphere Reserve
consists of separate areas, while according to the Presidential Decree on
Establishment of the Danube Biosphere Reserve is one long stripe.
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