Today we celebrate World Wetlands Day, honouring this very distinct and important ecosystem and valuable ally for preserving freshwater sources and creating a future in which water is available to everyone.
Of the total amount of water on Earth, only 2.5% is freshwater, of which less than 1% is usable. Only 0.3% of freshwater is found in rivers and lakes, while the rest is found in other habitats such as ponds, lagoons, peatlands and wetlands. These ecosystems are major regulators of the water cycle, and play a key role in recharging and recharging underground water sources, protecting coastal areas, controlling flooding, offer habitat for manifold animal and plant species. Unfortunately, due to human activities and unsustainable and uncontrolled economic development, most of these habitats are in poor condition, resulting in declining water quality and availability.
The lifelineMDD project addresses some of these issues, aiming to improve ecological connectivity and biodiversity within the Mura, Drava and Danube corridor by a cross-sectoral partnership for the restoration of natural river dynamics. These rivers form the lifeline of one of the most valuable river corridors in the Danube Basin.
Three pilot restoration projects planned within the mentioned area will serve as joint learning cases. Each of these deal with distinct issues of connectivity and are situated in river sections of a different character, thereby providing excellent practical cases for transboundary cross-sectoral learning, planning and joint review of results in the field.
The pilot implementation measures include enhancement of an old side-branch connection to improve dynamic development on Mura River in Austria, widening of a river section by removal of embankment on the Mura River in Slovenia, and improvement of the water management and retention in the floodplain and oxbows in Bačko Podunavlje Biosphere Reserve in Serbia.
Each year on February 2nd, World Wetlands Day gathers governmental bodies, non-governmental organisations and citizens around the globe to celebrate the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar Convention), which today marks its 50th anniversary.