The Danube-Carpathian transboundary region comprises 10 European Union Member States (Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia) and five neighbouring countries (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Montenegro, Serbia, and Ukraine). It includes many of Europe’s most spectacular wilderness areas and some of the largest remaining areas of virgin and natural forests. They are home to two-thirds of the European populations of brown bears, European lynx and grey wolves. The region boasts most of Europe’s last remaining intact rivers and wetlands, including the Danube Delta. The Danube shelters the sturgeons that survived the end of the dinosaurs but now are on the edge of extinction. For thousands of years, this natural landscape has been shaped by its people and is blessed with an incomparable wealth of history and culture.
However, this outstanding hotspot of biodiversity is under threat due to unsustainable economic development. New roads, urban development, intensifying agricultural and forestry practices, energy infrastructure, and tourism development are often planned and implemented without considering nature conservation, particularly protected areas and ecological connectivity. Land use changes and river regulations lead to the fragmentation of terrestrial and freshwater wildlife habitats.
There is a need for coordinated spatial planning across sectors to safeguard what is still in good natural conditions and to restore what has been destroyed in the past. In this context, the establishment of a Trans-European Nature Network (TEN-N) as required by the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, is pursued. The International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River brings together water managers from 14 countries sharing the Danube basin, and the Carpathian Convention engaging stakeholders from the seven Carpathian countries in sustainable development, provides good cooperation platforms for the project, along with the EU Strategy for the Danube Region.