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The core environmental problem of the Danube River Catchment can be described as “ecologically unsustainable development and inadequate water resources management” (PCU 1999). The problems are caused by different factors, such as: inadequate management of wastewater/solid waste, ecological unsustainable industrial activities, and inadequate land management and improper agricultural practices. They generate several direct consequences: pollution of surface/groundwater, eutrophication, and accelerated runoff /erosion. These consequences have, on the other hand, the following main effects: decline in quality of life, human health risks, degradation of biodiversity, economic decline, and reduced availability of water.

The Black Sea itself is also affected by severe environmental degradation. In 1995, it was rated with the highest concerns in five out of seven environmental categories, making it the worst of any of the European seas (Stanners and Boudreau 1995). Some signs of recovery have been observed in the last years, but eutrophication remains a severe problem.

The Black Sea Hydrological Catchment (see Figure below) represents a very interesting case study to test the capacity of integrating large data sets to assess vulnerability and sustainability issues related to freshwater resources as various scales. The project is therefore essentially concentrating on the terrestrial part of the Black Sea Hydrological Catchment, not to be confused with the marine part often considered when using the Black Sea Basin terminology.


PCU (1999). Strategic Action Plan for the Danube River Basin 1995-2005 – Revision 1999. Danube Pollution Reduction Programme, Programme Co-ordination Unit

Stanners, D. and Bourdeau, P. (Eds.) (1995), “Europe’s Environment: The Dobris Assessment,” European Environment Agency Task Force, European Environment Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark