Between Nature and Agriculture : Braila County

The county of Brăila. Whenever we remember this place, we think of the endless fields of Bărăgan and its vast crops.

1In reality, not all of its land is used for agriculture. The Danube’s presence on its eastern border has led to the creation of a swampland, consisting of permanent lakes, ponds of varying depths (depending on floods caused by the river) and spits, which covers around 150.000 hectares. This area represents 30% of Danube’s floodplain on the territory of Romania.

From the 1960s onwards, this sector, which was presented by Grigore Antipa in his work ”The Danube’s Floodplain – Current Status and Means to Better Use It” as ”a true delta before the delta”, has been subjected to various anthropic interventions, such as the construction of dams, drainings and deforestations. The aim of these measures was to bring a significant portion of the terrain into the agricultural circuit.

After the human interventions, out of 150.000 hectares, only 20.000 are still part of Danube’s floodplain. This last bastion of Brăila’s Moorlands has been, since 2003, under a protective regime, becoming a natural park.

The Natural Park Balta Mică a Brăilei (Brăila’s Small Moorland) is made up of 7 main islands and aits which are freely flooded by the Danube. Each of these islands has a distinctive geomorphology, with splits, flat areas and brooks, channels that connect the marshes, ponds and lakes. Its limits are the main navigable arm of the Danube and a number of secondary arms of the river (Cravia, Măcin, Vâlciu).

2.pngIn terms of biodiversity, Balta Mică a Brăilei includes, at a smaller scale, all the ecosystems that were once found in Braila’s Moorlands. It is worth mentioning that about 50% of Braila’s Small Moorland area represents natural ecosystems, 30% is partly natural and just 20% has been totally affected by human actions.

Additionally, this area is well-known, both nationally and internationally, for its ornithological significance, as a result of its location on the most important migratory path in Danube’s lower basin, halfway between the nesting grounds of Northern Europe and the winter retreats in Africa. 169 bird species that are found in this protected area are internationally protected by the Conventions of Bonn, Bern and Ramsar.

Thus, in the Balta Mică a Brăilei Natural Park, you can enjoy a landscape similar to that of the Delta, but far more accessible.

Beyond the vast agricultural fields, Brăila can surprise you with stunning natural areas.

Sources:  Moisei, R., 2006, Cercetări dendrometrice şi auxologice pentru reconstrucţia ecologică a ecosistemelor forestiere din lunca brăileană a Dunării-teză de doctorat, Suceava; Regulamentul Parcului Natural Balta Mică a Brăilei;

Photo sources:  www.arcaş

Article written by BONCIU Adela, meteorologist and graduate of the Faculty of Geography, Bucharest, with a  Master’s Degree in Integrated Assessment of the Environment, and translated by Mihail Mitoseriu.

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