Changes in ecosystem services from wetland loss and restoration: An ecosystem assessment of the Danube Delta (1960–2010)
Delta flood plains provide critically important benefits to humans including food production, fresh water, flood control, nutrient cycling, spiritual values and opportunities for recreation. Despite growing recognition of their societal and ecological importance, delta flood plains are declining worldwide at alarming rates.
Loss of benefits to humans from wetland ecosystems has socio-environmental costs that are overlooked in land-use planning, and wetland restoration can deliver important long-term benefits.
This study examines the effects of different land-use policies on ecosystem services provided by the Danube Delta, one of Europe’s largest and most outstanding wetlands.
Results of this study indicate that the Danube Delta provides important services with benefits accrued from local communities to humanity at large. At the same time, two thirds of the Delta’s ecosystem services have declined over the studied period and ongoing restoration efforts have so far been unable to reverse trends in ecosystem service decline.
Human benefits from ecological restoration policies are already becoming apparent, but at a scale not yet comparable to the costs from ecosystem decline incurred over previous decades.