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LITTLE aigrette or heron lake Beleu Manta2

Lake Beleu, one of the most important wetlands in the Republic of Moldova, © OiEAU


On 2 February, the world celebrates the importance of wetlands and its links to and sustainable management practices. A good occasion to recall the natural heritage of wetlands in Eastern Partnership countries and highlight how implementing the EU Water Framework Directive can help protecting them.

88 wetlands of international importance in the Eastern Partnership countries

Altogether, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine have 88 sites designated as Wetlands of International importance (Ramsar Sites).

Some of them are part of the pilot river basins where the European Union Water Initiative Plus is developping River Basin Management Plans, such as the Lake Sevan in Armenia,  Stary Zhaden, part of the Pripyatskoe Polesie Biosphere Reserve in Belarus, Lower Prut Lakes in the Republic of Moldova that extends to the river confluence with the Danube, ior the Archipelago Velyki and Mali Kuchugury in the Lower Dnipro subbasin in Ukraine.

To know more about the wetlands in a specific country, have a look at the official Ramsar webpage: https://www.ramsar.org


Wetlands sustain humanity and nature

Fresh and saltwater wetlands support social and economic development through multiple services.

First of all, wetlands hold and provide most of our fresh water since they naturally filter pollutants.

They play an important role in our approach to climate change adaptation, through capturing and storing carbon (peatlands store twice as much carbon as forests) and providing protection from floods and storms and coastal inundation. , storm surge and coastal inundation.

They are also a precious heritage, 40% of the world’s species live and breed in wetlands. Annually, about 200 new fish species discovered in freshwater wetlands.

More on the benefits of wetlands on https://www.worldwetlandsday.org/home


LITTLE boat on lake Beleu or Manta2

Lake Beleu, one of the most important wetlands in the Republic of Moldova, © OiEAU


How the EU Water Framework Directive take wetlands into account?

Wetland ecosystems have an important role to play in helping to achieve sustainable river basin management.

The EU water framework directive (EU WFD) does not set environmental objectives for wetlands. However, wetlands that are dependent on groundwater bodies, form part of a surface water body, or are protected areas, will benefit from EU WFD obligations to protect and restore the status of water.

Pressures on wetlands (for example physical modification or pollution) can result in impacts on the ecological status of water bodies. Measures to manage such pressures may therefore need to be considered as part of river basin management plans, where they are necessary to meet the environmental objectives of the directive.

Wetland offer sustainable, cost-effective and socially acceptable mechanisms for helping to achieve the environmental objectives of the directive.

Horizontal guidance on the role of wetlands in the EU  water framework directive . Guidance document. No 12



Lake Sevan, Armenia, ©OiEAU