Swis Nature

Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park

The Prut – the Danube’s lowermost tributary river

Romania is bordering the Danube on a river section of more than 1000 km. This river section crosses the Valachian plan, heading eastward. Near the town of Calarasi, the Danube splits into two branches (Borcea and Old Danube), encompassing a large island (Balta Ialomitei) mostly used for agriculture. The Danube is then forced by the hills of the Dobruja plateau, which separate the river from the Black sea, to flow north. The river forms another island, the Small Wetland of Braila, sit RAMSAR, which is still mainly covered by floodplain forest and swamps.

Near the city of Galati, where the Danube is about 1 km wide, it reaches the northern tip of the Dobrudja hills, which are formed by the geologically old (hercynian) Macin mountains. Thus, the river turns east there, splitting into several channels crossing the Danube Delta, in order to reach the Black Sea.

At the city of Galati, near the northernmost point of the Danube’s turn around the Macin Mountains, the Danube receives its two last tributary rivers, the Siret (470 km total length) and the Prut (953 km total length). The lower section of the Prut forms a ca 300 km long floodplain (with still >400 km2 functional floodplain) with a still free-flowing river, which is about double as long due the extensive meanders formed. The river thus consists an important north-south migratory route, and a gate to the Biosphere Reserve of the Danube Delta. The Prut also marks there the frontier between Romania and Moldova. The lowermost section of this floodplain is protected on the Romanian side within theLower Prut Floodplain Natural Park’ (Romania), and on the Moldavian side the Scientific Reserve “Lower Prut” and Lakes Beleu and Manta - Ramsar sites with 14 400 ha of wetlands .

The Lower Prut Floodplain Natural Park, with a length of about 145 km and a surface of 8247 ha, includes the Romanian shares of the river meanders, forested areas (2627 ha), ponds and lakes (4925 ha) as well as reed-marshes stretching until the flood dyke, and also the Danube river from the Prut confluence upstream until Galaţi city, and also lake Brateş.

The hydromoprhology of the Prut River itself is impacted by the construction of the Stanca-Costesti dam on the middle section of the Prut (total volume: 1400 million m3, length: 60 km) which has disconnected the lower courses of the Prut from the rich sediment load of the upper courses.The main characteristic which defines Prut is biodiversity. Despite the fact that the floodplain was reduced due to the dykes for flood protection, many natural habitats and species are still well preserved.