The “Brăila Islands” site is situated in the South-East of Romania and extends over 2,600 km2 and corresponds to a 78 km long Danube sector that stretches between Hârșova (km 253) and Brăila (km 175) cities. This socio-ecological system is inhabited by near 300,000 people and comprises heavily modified ecosystems (e.g. Big Island of Brăila) but also systems under a natural functional regime (e.g. Small Islands of Brăila), being of a crucial natural and socio-economical value. The Danube river in the Brăila Islands section has been ranked as a heavily modified water body according to criteria 2.1 (embankment works) due to the hydro-technical works on 79% of the river stretch sector and a candidate to “heavily modified” according with the WFD criteria 2.2 (regulation works) as a result of dredging of 21% of the river bed for intensive navigation. The main remnant of the natural floodplains consists in the wetlands from the Small Island of Brăila Natural Park with a total surface of 210 km2 and the floodplains between the riverbanks and dikes of almost 93 km2.

COORDINATES: Latitude: 44.962400000000

                             Longitude: 28.002300000000

SIZE: 259,682.00 ha

PURPOSE: Large scales of ecological systems studies: population/species, compartments (primary producers, consumers, decomposers), ecosystems, complex of ecosystems (landscapes/waterscapes), integration of socio-economical research data and monitoring.




Elevation Range FROM: 1.00msl

Elevation Range TO: 12.00msl

Elevation – Average: 2.00msl

Temperature Range (Monthly Minimum) FROM: -0.37°C

Temperature Range (Monthly Maximum) TO: -0.37°C

Temperature: Average Annual: 11.08°C

Precipitation Minimum Monthly: 89.00mm

Precipitation Annual: 473.60mm

Precipitation Maximum Monthly: 163.30mm

ILTER Biome: Agricultural

GEO-BON Biome: Fresh water lakes; Fresh water rivers; Terrestrial

Ecosystem and Land Use: Agricultural; Forest; Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests; Lakes; Small lakes; Rivers; Large rivers

Biogeographic Region: Steppic



Formally this land-waterscape consisted in a large (1376 square kilometers) floodplain which has been extended in the northern half of the Inland Danube Delta, between a network of river arms and lateral up to the river terrace. Three major hydro-geomorphic units have been developed over time: i) Big Island of Brăila with a surface of 666 square kilometers; ii) Small Islands of Brăila (SIBr) with a surface of 210 square kilometers and iii) lateral floodplain of 500 square kilometers. Before the campaign for agricultural land reclamation (1950’s), the area contained a large number of shallow lakes, ponds and marshes, linked to each other by natural or man-made channels and the entire network of freshwater ecosystems was connected to the river arms. The aquatic ecosystem network has covered a total surface of 619 square kilometers and has provided annually for the fishery sector about 3–4 k tons of fish yield. About 275 square kilometers of land area has been flooded annually for 6–7 months. Such type of flooded area has provided a wide range of excellent habitats for spawning, breeding, nesting and feeding for a large number of fish and bird species. They also functioned as very productive wet grasslands, providing significant quantities of hay or reed mace. The remaining land surface of 482 square kilometers has been flooded only for 2–3 months per year during the main river pulse (April to June). The hydrology of this large land area has allowed the establishment of natural alluvial forests (about 115 square kilometers) as well as practicing extensive and traditional agriculture on variable surface (50– 100 square kilometers or even more) according with the variation in the river’s hydrologic pulse.


By the end of 1960s the Brăila Islands land-waterscape was to a very high extent affected from a structural and functional point of view. Thus 1073 square kilometers of polders were established from which the largest one of 666 square kilometers in Big Island of Brăila. The cost for establishing such large polders has exceeded nine hundreds millions USD (Vădineanu— unpublished data). Most part of permanent water bodies and floodplains has been converted into highly energy subsidized crop production systems. Total subsidies in terms of concentrated energy varied from one to another crop production system according with the type of crop (corn, rice, wheat) and soil characteristics and that was equivalent to 1.5 up to 2.5 tones of diesel fuel per hectare per year. Since 1990 these state owned farming systems have collapsed, as was the case for all those (78 %) created in the LDWS, obviously due the loss of the biological foundation necessary for their maintenance. Currently we still find a significant amount of wetlands consisting of: a) the Small Island of Brăila wetlands (SIBr) with a total surface of 210 square kilometers and b) the floodplains between riverbanks and dikes of almost 93 square kilometers. The SIBr wetlands extends along a Danube river stretch of 62 kilometers long between kilometer 175 downstream and kilometer 237 upstream and consists in a set of 10 islets and a network of river arms and channels.


Deciduous native forest, wetland (mire) and open grass is the dominant vegetation in the floodplain, often accompanied by alluvial soft wood forest, meadow and reeds. 221 species of plants were identified. Dominant species are: willow (Salix alba, Salix cinerea, Salix fragilis), poplar (Populus alba, Populus nigra), elm (Ulmus foliacea), Myricaria germanica, blackberry bush (Rubus caesius). An important part is covered by wetlands with: reed (Phragmites australis), rush (Typha latifolia, Typha angustifolia), Scirpus lacustris, Lythrum salicaria, Galium palustre, Euphorbia palustris, Solanum dulcamara, Sium latifolium, Glyceria maxima, Stachys palustris, Butomus umbellatus, Iris pseudacorus. The most important aquatic associations are: Myriophyllo-nupharetum, Hydrocharitetum morsus-ranae, located especially on lakes; Salvinio-Spirodeletum polyrhizae, in the small water holes from the reed swamp, and Trapetum natansis, in deep water, in association with Lemna minor, Potamogeton perfoliatus, Potamogeton crispus, Potamogeton lucens, Potamogeton pectinatus.

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The area is located in the south part of Romania with the geographic position of 24°51’12”-26°13’52” E longitude and 43°55’31”-44°49’32” N latitude. The Neajlov River and its catchment are a tributary and a sub-catchment of the river Arges, which in turn is one of the main tributary for the lower Danube river stretch. The Neajlov river catchment belongs also to the four administrative units (counties) – Arges, Dimbovita, Giurgiu and Teleorman.


        Latitude: 45.100000000000

        Longitude: 24.066700000000

SIZE:  371,850.00 ha

PURPOSE: Research and monitoring of the catchment; Sustainable development


Elevation Range FROM: 30.00msl

Elevation Range TO: 350.00msl

Elevation – Average: 100.00msl

Temperature Range (Monthly Minimum) FROM: -1.23°C

Temperature Range (Monthly Maximum) TO: -1.23°C

Temperature Average Annual: 10.50°C

Precipitation Minimum Monthly: 113.60mm

Precipitation Annual: 648.30mm

ILTER Biome: Agricultural

GEO-BON Biome: Fresh water lakes; Fresh water rivers; Terrestrial

Ecosystem and Land Use: Agricultural; Forest; Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests; Lakes; Fresh Water Lakes; Rivers; Small rivers

Biogeographic Region: Continental

        Geological conditions, especially the hydrogeological ones (groundwater’s depth and flow), influence very much the drainage regime. The typical deposits of the central sector of the Romanian Plain consist in porous permeable rocks, respectively of Pleistocene and Holocene gravels and sands.

        Alluvial-lacustrine deposits composed of tens of meters thick stacks of gravel alternating with marl-clays and sands. In piedmont deposits, the groundwater is located at depths of over 50 m in, due to the gravel strata ( Grecu et al., 2011). The geological substrate of the area is given by the Moessic platform and four major sediment layers: 1) Permian-Triassic; 2) middle Jurassic–Barremian; 3) Albian–Senonian and 4) Tortonian-Quaternary. The soil bed consists from quaternary alluvial (2-6 m thick) and loess (5-12 m thick) deposits ( Geological Atlas, Romania, 1967).

               The core components of the water network include the river Neajlov and its three major tributaries – Dâmbovnic, Glavacioc and Câlniștea. The overall catchment comprises 48 sub-catchments with surfaces between 10 and 664 km2 , which have been further clustered into 9 sub-catchments.

        During last five decades in the Neajlov catchment a set of hydrotehnical projects have been implemented, aiming to establish water reservoirs, embankments, new canals for water diversion and river stretch regulation. Along the main water courses of the hydrological network have been created 95 water reservoirs aiming to serve different uses – irrigation, intensive fishery, industrial and households water supply, from which the most important are Gradinari, Facau and Bila 1.

        The detailed water balance for the period 1995-2001, was evaluated with SWAT model ( Danielescu & Postolache, unpublished data) and MONERIS model (Postolache, unpublished data ). It was observed that regions located in the northern and western part of the catchment are characterized by high values of surface runoff (18-20 mm/a annual average) and as a consequence by high values of total water yield (75-91 mm/a annual average). The infiltration (366 – 377 mm/a) and evapotranspiration (379 / 397 mm/a annual average) are lower than the catchment average (394 / 409 mm). These factors together with the soil properties suggest a very rapid circulation of water from upslope to the river, mainly through surface runoff. The soil water content has the lowest values for the entire catchment (between 41 mm/a and 50 mm/a).

        Regions located in the central and southern-western, southern-eastern parts of the catchment are characterized by lower values of surface runoff (11-13 mm/a). The infiltration level is greater for these areas, but is balanced by a higher level of evapotranspiration (420-432). Groundwater discharge varies from 7 mm/a to 89 mm/a, and soil water content lies between 72 mm/a and 122 mm/a.

According with FAO-UNESCO soil classification, within the Neajlov catchment have been described eleven soil classes (Fig.5), from which the dominant are – Luvisols (2250 km2 ), Planosols (400 km2), Chernozems (350 km2), Vertisols (287 km2 ) and Gleysols (254 km2) (Oprina-Pavelescu, 2006 ).