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Danube Watch 3 2008

Photography builds a symbolic bridge along the Danube

The Naturefriends International is using photography’s power to capture the essence and character of different cultures to connect countries and peoples of varying customs and traditions along the Danube.

‘Boats of Silence’, Dorian Hodorogea, First Place, Digital Category

‘Flußufer IR’, Karl Maier, Second Place, Digital Category

‘‘Reflections 2’, Zdeno Kostka, Third Place, Digital Category

“The Danube connects ten countries and its peoples with their different cultures. Photography also has the ability to bridge people by wordless communication“, said Manfred Pils, President of the Naturefriends International (NFI). To build this bridge, NFI, in cooperation with the ICPDR, organised the NFI Photo Championship 2008 to link together the countries, landscapes and peoples along the Danube.

The competition drew participants from around the world, and nearly 3000 entries were received from 22 countries. Entries were accepted in two different groups: the general theme or the special theme for this year, ‘The Danube and its Tributaries’. Photographs were submitted for these two themes under the categories black and white or monochrome, colour or polychrome, and slides or digital images. The honour of ‘NFI Master Photographer 2008’ was given by the jury to photographers with the highest score in any given category.

Capturing life on the danube and its tributaries. The winning selections for the special theme truly capture the richness of life along the Danube. Max Rupff of Switzerland won in the colour category for his photo ‘Guter Fang’ (Good Catch), which shows a fish being prepared to be cooked, symbolising the culinary heritage of the people living along the river. ‘Sonnenbad’, by Erich Stiglitz of Austria, won in the monochrome category. The image, of a man sunbathing on a Danube raft, highlights the Danube as an incredible recreation area. Romania’s Dorian Hodorogea won in the digital/slide category with the photograph ‘Boats of Silence’, showing the inherent natural beauty of a sensitive ecosystem in the Danube Delta at sunset.

The official award ceremony was held on 10 December, 2008, and included a presentation of the exhibition in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre. The ceremony was well attended by photographers, among them some winners from Romania and Austria, a camera team and participants from at least 15 countries.

“Our goal for the competition was to use the art of photography from all across the world to show the importance of the EU Water Framework Directive for the longlasting preservation of such an important natural and cultural heritage like the Danube Basin,” said Pils, who presided over the event, accompanied by Aleksandar Prodanovic, Head of the Serbian Delegation to the ICPDR, and by Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the ICPDR.

The winning entries, accompanied by the full exhibition of 60 more pictures, will remain on display in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre and in a touring exhibition through the Danube countries. In January 2009 the exhibition was included as part of the Holiday Fair (CMT) in Stuttgart and during the year will be shown at different locations, including Tulcea, the gateway to the Danube Delta, where it will form a part of the activities for this year’s Danube Day 2009 on 29 June.

Bringing the Danube Delta into focus. The NFI Photo Championship is part of the Landscape of the Year programme, which was introduced by the NFI in 1989. Every two years the title of Landscape of the Year is conferred upon a European cross-border region which is ecologically endangered, and the Danube Delta was selected for Landscape of the Year for 2007–2009.

Situated at the eastern border of the European Union, the Danube Delta is one Europe’s most important yet most fragile natural sites. As Europe’s largest remaining natural wetland, the Danube Delta is one of the continent’s most valuable habitats for wetland wildlife and biodiversity, but its ecosystems are affected by changes upstream such as pollution as well as by ecological changes in the delta itself. A total area of 679,000 ha of the delta is under legal protection, while the core of the reserve (312,400 ha) was designated as a ‘World Natural Heritage Site’ in 1991.

The Danube Delta hosts over 30 different ecosystems, and is one of Europe’s most important bird sanctuaries. Its extraordinary rich fauna and flora makes the delta the world’s third place of scientific importance after the Great Coral Barrier of Australia and the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.

Raising awareness of the region. The general objective of the Landscape of the Year is to bring the Danube Delta to the forefront of public interest in Europe and to advance and support sustainable development in the region.

“The many excellent photographs that resulted will surely help in raising the significance of the many wonders and important issues throughout the Danube River Basin”, says Saša Dragin, Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Serbia and President of the ICPDR for 2008.

The NFI Photo Championship succeeded in capturing the beauty and diversity of the Danube and its tributaries by linking together people from all the countries along the Danube to contribute to raising awareness of the dangers faced by this precious landscape.

For more information about the Landscape of the Year, and for the final results of the competition, please visit: www.landscapeoftheyear.net/danubedelta or www.nfi.at.
The catalogue of the exhibition is available at: www.nfi.at/dmdocuments/Katalog_Fotowettbewerb.pdf.

‘Guter Fang’, Max Rupff, First Place, Colour Category

‘Wiener Oase’, Ulrke Hödl, Second Place, Colour Category

‘Herbstabend’, Josef Winterer, Third Place, Colour Category

‘Sonnenbad’, Erich Stiglitz, First Place, Monochrome Category

‘‘Unter der Reichsbrücke’, Maria Bein, Second Place, Monochrome Category

‘‘Versunkener Wald’, Karl Hintersteiner, Third Place, Monochrome Category

Anita Pinter is a Project Assistant at NFI. Christian
Baumgartner is the General Secretary at NFI.

 Next: ICPDR Meetings


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Last Edit: 2009-05-26