Protection of European deltas

Doc. 10194
3 June 2004

Motion for a resolution
presented by Mr Meale and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.         The Assembly is concerned to preserve Europe's natural heritage and, in this connection, attaches special importance to river deltas.  Deltas constitute regions that are both abundant and sensitive in environmental terms.  Thousands of animal and plant species live in deltas, which also provide nesting sites for hundreds of bird species, either permanently or during migration.  Any change made to delta ecosystems risks causing serious disruption for those species, which are often protected, and could even jeopardise their survival as well as irreversibly destroying natural areas and landscapes.

2.         European deltas are under pressure today from numerous sources, be it from natural factors or human activity.  Some have even undergone serious damage, placing a question mark over their preservation.

3.         One example is the Ebro delta (Spain), which faces three major problems: shrinkage due to the building of dams upstream and the reduction of sediment influx; subsidence resulting from the compacting of sediments by their own weight and by human activity; permeation by seawater as a result of less freshwater flowing seawards.  Lessened river flow is also due to use for agriculture, domestic supply, industry and energy generation in recent decades.

4.         In addition, Spain's National Water Programme – which currently stands challenged – envisages a transfer of water from the Ebro to other water basins on the pretext of a supposed water "deficit" in the Spanish Levante region and a supposed "surplus" in the Ebro.

5.         A second example is the Danube delta, a region forming part of the respective territories of Romania and Ukraine.  This protected area is one of Europe's finest natural sites and has been on UNESCO's World Heritage list since 1991.  The Council of Europe awarded it the European Diploma of protected areas in 2000.

6.         In October 2003 the Ukrainian Government approved a plan to build a shipping canal in the Bystroye, a secondary branch of the Danube.  This initiative could have grave consequences for the entire delta ecosystem.  The international Danube River Protection Convention expressed its concern over this matter on 2 December 2003.

7.  Keen to ensure that European deltas are preserved and that international treaties and regulations such as the Ramsar Convention on wetlands or the Bern Convention on the conservation of European wildlife and natural habitats are applied in delta regions, the Assembly has decided to study the situation of European deltas and make proposals to better protect and safeguard this unique natural heritage.

Signed [1]:
Meale, United Kingdom, SOC
Schicker, Austria, SOC
Etherington, United Kingdom, SOC
Nazar� Pereira, Portugal, EPP/CD
Ohlsson, Sweden, SOC
Kužvart, Czech Republic, SOC
�avusoglu Y., Turkey, LDR
A�ikg�z, Turkey, EDG
Bruce, United Kingdom, LDR
Kolesnikov, Russia, EDG
Kovalev, Russia, EDG
Flynn, United Kingdom, SOC
Timmermans J., Belgium, SOC
Gubert, Italy, EPP/CD
Crema, Italy, SOC
Giovanelli, Italy, SOC
Txueka Isasti, Spain, EPP/CD



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