In the Republic of Moldova, the natural heritage is represented by the System of state protected natural areas, which was approved by Law no. 1538-XIII of 25.02.1988 regarding the fund of natural areas protected by the state. In the lower course of the Prut River is located the Natural Reserve “Prutul de Jos” in english is Lower Prut, founded in 1991, based on Beleu lake, which is a relict of the Danube estuary. The protected area includes several gullies, divided into sectors that actually form 2 pond systems that are supplied from the waters of the Prut, so it also depends on its water level. The area is located within the village of Slobozia Mare, Cahul district. At the same time, it can be accessed from Valeni village. Ponds are part of the network of international importance RAMSAR, being one of the most important areas for the migration of waterfowl. Since 2018, the Lower Prut Scientific Reserve has received the rank of Biosphere Reserve, and is part of the UNESCO heritage. Located in the south of the country, this biosphere reserve comprises the Prut River and floodplains. Two thirds of the area is occupied by Lake Beleu (628 ha). Beleu lake is visited during the autumn and spring migration by a considerable number of species of aquatic and semi-aquatic birds ( around 20.000). Among the most popular are pelicans, egrets, swans and cormorants. Among the basic functions of the Lower Prut Scientific Reserve are the educational and popularization function of science and last but not least, the promotion of ecological tourism. Every year it is visited by groups of foreign tourists, pupils, students, scientific researchers, as well as teachers from all over the country. The reserve operates under the legislation of the Republic of Moldova, being administered by the Moldsilva Agency. According to the data provided, in the summer of 2020 the lake was visited by 1397 tourists, ranking second in the top of the reservations in the Republic of Moldova, following the Pădurea Domnească Scientific Reserve, ranked 1st, with 8,440 visitors.
Photo credit: Roman Friptuleac