• Szabadság Island on the River Danube is virtually disappearing due to disrupted water flow. To help fix the problem, Cargill teams with the World Wildlife Fund.
  • Krisztián Kovács, a silo operator for Cargill, volunteers his time to the restoration by picking up trash that has accumulated on Hungary’s riverbanks.

Restoring wildlife along the River Danube

When Hungary needs help reintroducing native plants and animals to Szabadság Island, Cargill teams up with the World Wildlife Fund.

Hungary’s open river floodplains host a number of native wildlife species and popular outdoor activities, but over the last century, the country has seen 94% of this land disappear. In a push toward conservation, Cargill teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to help restore one of these important areas, the island of Szabadság.

Also known as Liberty Island, Szabadság is one of the largest islands on the River Danube and is located just a short ferry ride from one of Cargill’s two grain and oilseed river ports in Hungary. Trouble for the island began in 1982 when a rock-filled dam interrupted the flow of water and caused the riverbed to fill with silt, slowly introducing non-indigenous plants into the natural greenery. Feeling a sense of responsibility to a river critical to its local operations, Cargill rose to the challenge when it saw an opportunity to help.

In 2011, the company donated US $56,500 to remove the silt, relocate water pipelines, open the dam, reduce foreign plants and reintroduce natural forests. Cargill employees gave their time to the cause, traveling from all over the country to remove trash and unfamiliar plants.

“We feel a sense of responsibility to ensure [the Danube’s] health and vitality.”— Szabolcs Makai, Country Lead,
Cargill Grain & Oilseed Supply Chain Europe

As a result of these efforts, much of Szabadság Island has now been restored. Indigenous forests are taking over, and animals like the black kite bird, European beaver and fish that prefer running water are reappearing. In addition, Cargill and WWF upgraded the territory’s water management system to improve water quality for over 20 million people who depend on it for clean, safe drinking water.