The Romanian Dobrogea Littoral Waters Directorate (DADL), the Romanian Ornithology Society (SOR) and the Town Hall of Techirghiol (southeastern Romania) have developed the EU-funded protection programme for the red breasted geese (Branta ruficollis) and provided wintering conditions for the species, one of the rarest worldwide. The project is aimed at the protection of Branta ruficollis through the improvement of the wintering conditions and the preservation of the saltiness of the Techirghiol Lake.
For the purpose, the key element of the project was the monitoring system set in two automatic units equipped with cells measuring the physical and chemical properties of the water and that are directly sent to the DADL. More than half of the money went to the DADL that used it to pay protection works for the Techirghiol Lake, while the SOR got about 45 percent of the funds, says SOR director Dan Hulea. Techirghiol Town Hall received 5 percent of the money and paid the sanitation works of the Lake's rim that had turned into a litter pile.
Over winter, the Techirghiol Lake becomes the favorite place where the red-breasted geese winter, as the lake's waters never freeze. The largest number of geese counted on the Lake totaled 27,000 birds, in January, namely 31 percent of the red-necked geese, all over the world. Nevertheless, about 11,800 of such geese (13.4 percent of them throughout the world) fly to Techirghiol Lake in January to spend winter.
The Lake is also an important area where the migratory birds stop on their way from northern to southern Europe and farther to Africa. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of birds fly to the Techirghiol Lake when all the other lakes of Europe get frozen, Hulea stressed.
The Techirghiol Lake represents a priority location for the protection of the species threatened with extinction such as the red-necked goose, the white-headed goose (Oxyura leucocephala) as well as for other European species such as the ice loon (Gavia artica), pygmy cormorant (Phalacrocorax pygmeus), the Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) and the white pelican (Pelecanus onocrataus), the white stork (Ciconia ciconia) and the whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus).
Generally about 40 species of the wild birds listed in the Birds Directive come to the Techirghiol Lake during the brooding and the migration periods and to winter, SOR communication officer Alida Barbu pointed out, adding that these species and their habitats are protected and conserved and assured survival and reproduction in their natural environment.
Through the EU funded Life Nature project, the Ramsar World Conservation of Wetlands and the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve declared the Techirghiol Lake a protected area. Romania is to host the 11th Meeting of the signatory countries of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, due in the first half of 2012.
The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental Treaty on the Wetlands of International Importance, which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. There are presently 158 Contracting Parties to the Convention, with 1,831 wetland sites, totaling 170 million hectares.