Sand dune - Country Report, Romania

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This article on the sand dunes of Romania, is a revised country report from the 'Sand Dune Inventory of Europe' (Doody ed. 1991) [1]. The 1991 inventory was prepared under the umbrella of the European Union for Dune Conservation [EUDC]. The original inventory was presented to the European Coastal Conservation Conference, held in the Netherlands in November 1991. It attempted to provide a description of the sand dune vegetation, sites and conservation issues throughout Europe including Scandinavia, the Atlantic coast and in the Mediterranean.

An overview article on the distribution of European sand dunes provides links to the other European country reports. These represent chapters from updated individual country reports included in the revised, 2nd Edition of the 'Sand Dune Inventory of Europe' prepared for the International Sand Dune Conference “Changing Perspectives in Coastal Dune Management”, held from the 31st March - 3rd April 2008, in Liverpool, UK (Doody ed. 2008)[2].

Original Authors: Veronique Loeffen & Robert Tekke with additional information July 2007.


Romania borders the Black Sea and along the coast there are a number of dune areas. The southern coast consists of a pattern of cliffs interspersed with beaches which continue to Constanta. The coast north of Constanta is mainly sandy with some extensive dune areas such as in the Danube delta.


On most of the coastline of Romania there are no dunes and where they do exist they are small and not well developed. Normally they form a narrow zone, though there are more extensive dune areas in the western Black Sea coast, in the Danube delta. This delta consists of several large and small tributaries of the Danube River with marshes, reedbeds, lakes, lagoons and dunes. In this delta old beach barriers are present as well as younger dune formations with shifting sands. Most of the beach barriers and dunes in the delta are stabilized, but dunes that are more mobile can be found closer to the Black Sea. Nowadays shifting dunes are the result of overgrazing. A rich hydrological network contributes to the enhancement of biodiversity. Over 1000 km of the Danube River and many of its tributaries flow through Romania. Before the river flows into the Black Sea, the Danube Delta covers a surface area of about 580,000 ha (113,000 ha of which are permanently covered by water). It is the largest delta in Europe and conserves a very wide range of biodiversity specific to wetlands. The Danube Delta has been awarded the status of Biosphere Reserve in 1990, and has been registered as Ramsar Site and world natural heritage site since 1991. Romania’s territory also includes a large portion of the Black Sea coast (228 km) and associated sand dune and coastal ecosystems.


There is little information available on the composition of the vegetation in the dune areas of Romania. Therefore, only the species, which are characteristic of the strandline, foredunes and woodland, are mentioned. Strandline. In this zone, close to the sea, Salsola kali, Euphorbia peplis and Centaurea arenaria occur, sometimes with Atriplex portulacoides and Suaeda maritima; Foredune. The most prominent species are Eryngium maritimum, Pancratium maritimum, Ammophila arenaria, Euphorbia paralias, Carex arenaria, Agropyrum junceum and Medicago marina; Woodland. Populus alba, Salix rosmarinifolia, Hippophae rhamnoides and Tamarix ramosissima are amongst the species which occur in the scrub / woodland zone. More is known about the vegetation on the old beach barriers and dunes of the Danube delta. For example, in the dune depressions the vegetation consists of native natural forest in its climax phase with species such as Fraxinus pallisiae, F. angustifolia, Quercus robur and Q. pedunculiflora. In the drier areas Rosa canina, Berberis vulgaris, Sambucus nigra, Cornus sanguinea and Rubus caesius are more dominant. The herbaceous layer is very diverse with species such as Aristolochia clematis and Convalaria majalis. On the dune ridges between the low-lying forest areas, dune grasslands have developed. On these ridges plants can be found which are specially adapted to dry conditions. Dominant species are Euphorbia sequieriana, Carex ligerica and Ephedra distachya. Species which play an important role in stabilising the more mobile dune sands in the Danube delta are Polygonum arenarium, Cynodon dactylon and Tribulus terrestris.


There are two major sites on the Romanian coast

01. Danube Delta: Biosphere Reserve See
Perisor-Zatone-Sacalin 15400 lakes
Gura Portitei 3900 marshes, lakes
02. Lacul Techirgol and saline lake 1170 former coastal bay Not protected

A number of 18 strictly protected areas with a total surface of 50,600 ha were delineated within the reserve. The Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve is the only protected area in Romania with an administrative structure, a management plan and its own law.


In Romania, only the problems concerning the Danube delta are known. Although the delta is still fairly natural there are some problems. The most important ones affecting the dunes are overgrazing, the planting of exotic trees and the canalization of the Danube River. The last of these causes changes in the sedimentation rates and pattern, which in some areas are already causing erosion.

The conservation of the coastal zone in Romania is the responsibility of a national commission, which designates and administers protected areas. Within each county, there are local commissions responsible for environmental conservation. Natural areas can be designated as national parks and nature reserves. National parks do not yet exist in the Romanian coastal zone, though there are some nature reserves. These reserves can be divided into a large number of categories, botanical, zoological, ornithological, speleological etc.

Additional information on Romania’s biodiversity can be found at: , though this includes little information on sand dunes.


  1. Doody, J.P., ed., 1991. Sand Dune Inventory of Europe. Peterborough, Joint Nature Conservation Committee/European Union for Coastal Conservation.
  2. Doody, J.P., ed. 2008. Sand Dune Inventory of Europe, 2nd Edition. National Coastal Consultants and EUCC - The Coastal Union, in association with the IGU Coastal Commission.

See also

The main author of this article is Doody, Pat
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.

Citation: Doody, Pat (2019): Sand dune - Country Report, Romania. Available from,_Romania [accessed on 24-07-2024]